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The Spectrum of Trust


Explanations > Trust > The Spectrum of Trust

Blind Faith | Paranoia | Reasonable Trust | So what


We don't trust all people equally and we don't all approach trust in the same way. There is an overall spectrum, ranging from blind faith to paranoia. If we can identify where the other person is situated  


Blind Faith

Reasonable Trust


Everyone's trustworthy

Some are trustworthy

Nobody's trustworthy
Trust without evidence

Trust with evidence

Distrust without evidence


Blind Faith

At one end of the trust spectrum is blind faith, where the naive will happily do whatever anyone asks of them. They assume that everyone else is trustworthy, even in the face overwhelming evidence.

Few of us are as foolish as to be blindly faithful in all other people, though many of us do have blind spots. I will blindly believe my football team can beat all comers or that my great website will attract millions of admirers.


At the opposite end to blind faith is paranoia. The paranoid person trust nobody, and even assumes that 'everyone is out to get them'. They distrust without evidence.

As with blind faith, paranoia can be broad or narrow in focus. I can be paranoid about one person or a whole football team.

Reasonable trust

Somewhere in the middle is a reasonable position, where evidence is required before I will trust other people. 

So what?

Find out where the other person is situated along the spectrum, and act accordingly. The more paranoid the other person is, the more you will need to spend time building trust.

You may also be able to move the person to a different context in which they are less paranoid. For example, a meeting in your office with a supplier may immediately make them feel threatened. A neutral location such as a restaurant may lead them to a more reasonable position.

You may even decide to abandon the persuasion if the other person remains at the higher end of the spectrum. If you have alternatives to the persuasion, they may be an easier course! 

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