By Jonathan Timar 4 Comments

Untrustworthy People

One of the most exceptionally wonderful experiences of my life was attending the Landmark Forum. When I say it changed my life forever, I mean it, and I do not say so lightly. I was so enthusiastic about my experience that I could not have resisted writing about it here had I wanted to.

So I find it very interesting, and also very disheartening every time I check my statistics to see what keywords people are using to find my site. Many people search for Landmark Forum and end up here, but it’s never people looking to discover how great Landmark Forum is, or why their friends are so happy and eager to tell them about it. No. People search for things like the following:

  • landmark forum scam
  • landmark forum sales pressure
  • landmark forum cult
  • landmark forum brainwashing
  • landmark forum recruitment

Not a single keyword string that I would term positive ever brings people to my site, except for perhaps when they search for “landmark forum” on it’s own. In that case it’s not possible to know the intent of the searcher. (Incidentally, my favourite is “landmark forum recruitment”. What do you suppose you’re being recruited for? It’s not a secret society, it’s a bloody three-day personal development course.)

What drives people to go to such lengths to prove their own misgivings?

I think I have the answer: they themselves are not trustworthy people.

I believe that we all view life, and the people we encounter in it as a reflection or out own life, and of ourselves. Those who are naturally trusting are so because they themselves are worthy of trust. Those who see everything through a lens of a suspicion, are likely people we would be wise to be suspicious of. People who have nothing to hide usually do not imagine that others are hiding anything (sometimes to their own detriment). Likewise, those with more than a few skeletons in their closet, become convinced, usually irrationally that everyone is out to get them.

One in every eleven people shoplifts on a regular basis. Think about that. One in eleven! That means that every person in the country is guaranteed to know at least once thief, and probably two or more. Many of us will even have a good friend who steals. Among kids, it even higher, more than one out of every two kids says they know a shoplifter, and hang around them. Now what are the odds that these shoplifting types are the same people who sit around complaining about how the world it out to get them, the government is robbing them of their pay cheque, or that that dirty telemarketer was trying to rip them off. My guess is pretty high.

Untrustworthy fear being found out.

This is the truth. The lack of trust untrustworthy people have in others is the direct side effect of them over-compensating for their own knowledge of how untrustworthy they are. They simply MUST view everyone else as untrustworthy to justify their own untrustworthy nature.

If a trustworthy person is inadvertently short-changed by a cashier, she is liable to shrug it off and move on (unless it’s a large amount that she is really going to miss).

An untrustworthy person, however, will likely cause a fuss, he might even flip out at the cashier, accuse her of trying to cheat him, all the while slipping out of the store with a couple of packs of gum in his pocket. He’ll then justify it to himself, tell himself it’s okay because the store rips people off all the time anyway.

Speaking of Wal-Mart…

Years ago I heard about an extreme example of this sort of behaviour.

As you may know, I am not a fan of Wal-Mart. I think the effect they have had on the world is nothing short of tragic. But that doesn’t mean I think it’s okay to steal from them.

Not everyone sees it that way. I once heard from a group of young people who fancied themselves to be Robin Hood’s of sorts. They would go into Wal-Mart, and steal whatever they wanted. They would keep some for themselves, and some they would give away to charity. The felt completely justified in this behaviour. As far as they were concerned, Wal-Mart was the evil empire, that they were just taking back what Wal-Mart had stolen from them.

The problem is, Wal-Mart never stole from them. For all the evil Wal-Mart has done to the world, they never took without asking. People willingly sacrificed their small towns, and their jobs in their greed and desire for lower prices. Wal-Mart simply took advantage of people’s willingness to give it all up.

Now these people stealing from Wal_mart were obviously not rich. They were quite poor really, but they were also quite lazy. They viewed anything resembling opportunity as an evil scam perpetrated by “the man”. They saw everything as untrustworthy, they saw everything as they, deep down, knew themselves to be, and projected that viewpoint onto everything, and everyone they encountered.

Don’t take is personally.

In life, we often have to deal with untrustworthy people, who will project their un-trustworthiness onto us. Sometimes it will be subtle, sometimes it will be not so subtle. It never feels good not to be trusted, and to have out character called into question, especially when we are trying to help.

Rejection hurts.

But no matter what we do in life, both personally, and professionally, it will happen. It is important to remember that the source of their lack of trust comes from within them, not from you.

You might also remind yourself that people who are so untrusting are likely quite untrustworthy, and your may not want their business/friendship/love anyway.

Does all of this mean that there aren’t times when we are on the other side of it that we shouldn’t be careful or suspicious?

Of course not!

But in my experience, untrustworthy people tend to be fairly obvious once you understand what makes them tick. I’ve never known anyone to erect a bullet proof gate in front of their house unless they expected someone might want to shoot at them. But I do know of one person who did erect a bulletproof gate in front of his house….

…would you be concerned if a person like that didn’t trust you?

4 Comments

4 Comments:

  • Nice post. I didn’t know that 1 of 11 people steal. It is societal though, because you see in Japan that there are very few thieves. My friend went there, forgot an expensive camera in a busy place for several hours but when she got back, it was still there.

    I think that people steal because they feel separate. They don’t see themselves in others, and they don’t feel the other people. Even thieves don’t often steal from their families, they steal from others or from anonymous corporations.

    • Indeed it is. I have heard similar stories about Japan before.

      I disagree about why people steal. I think almost all thieves steal because they are opportunistic and feel entitled. I feel pretty confident about this.

      Also, I don’t agree that most thieves don’t steal from their family members. MANY do. Many shoplifters start by stealing money out of their own mother’s purse as children.

      I am more or less against making excuses for people. I think giving thieves an excuse like “they feel separate” is greatly insulting to those people who have felt “separate” and didn’t become thieves.

  • I have to say I agree with you. Speaking from a neuroscientist’s perspective all our perception of other people is very much based on comparison to ourselves. Know one can imagine someone being in a state that they themselves haven’t experienced (a sociopath doesn’t understand general empathy, and people with damage to their brain that prevents the feeling of fear can’t even identify scared faces). There are types of neurons called mirror neurons which fire either to produce an action when you feel something or observe someone making a similar action to understand the feeling (though they’re not well understood). Just my two cents.

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