In operative strategic interpersonal interactions, the art of deception isn’t necessarily the most vital, it’s the ability to trust.
“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” -Ernest Hemingway
There’s an old Russian proverb “trust, but verify”, made famous by Ronald Reagan, then becoming an approach (at least also as just a saying) in the intelligence community. It sounds clever but hardly practical for everyday on the fly application.
The operative’s directive of professional trust does not regard that ideal, instead it’s “verify, then trust”.
Trust is often encompassed as a whole or singular characteristic of a person. But complete trust is exceedingly rare, if not nonexistent. This is why trusting strangers, enemies, rivals or known liars is tricky, not to mention friends, family and yourself.
The directive of professional trust is not to trust the person for who they are, but trust their specific need, want, agenda or purpose. That they will act on it no matter what.
“If you can’t trust a man but you must rely on them, trust him to act on his own agenda.“ -John Cain
You can trust an enemy to attack, a thief to steal, a liar to deceive, a salesman to bargain and so on. So you don’t trust them as a person but you can trust their purpose to serve themselves and use that to your own advantage. Verify their purpose, then trust.
If you’re with an enemy and you need to rely on each other to survive, you don’t trust the person they are, you trust your mutual need to survive.
For example, you can trust and enemy to lose something of value, risk their life or help you at some cost if it means that helps them in some way.
At least until the status quo alters.
The same applies in business. You trust their greed or need to profit, not their character.
You may never really trust someone completely, but you can trust their specific needs or goals and use that to even predict their behavior.
So you have to figure out what their agenda or desire is and analyze it to use it in your favor.
The idea of trust is almost entirely grey, but these are the angles of black or white in between.
“Put the right people in the right places, and then you trust them to do the right stuff.” -Dara Khosrowshahi
However it can also be used in reverse for others to trust you in the same way, but it can also be used deceptively in order to get what you want by giving away a false positive trust index.
It helps to not think of them as people but as programmed machines. You can “trust” your machine to do exactly what it’s made to do because they are hard encoded and hardwired to do so.
However, it’s the same with people. You just have to figure out what that unyielding programming is.
[The featured photo was taken in Cairo, Egypt.]
Best advice on trust I’ve ever read.