9 subtle personality traits that make people trust you less

In the complex web of human emotions, trust is the very thing that keeps our relationships going strong. Without it, we can’t have connection and emotional stability.

Sadly, there are sometimes personality traits that can work to unravel the trust we’ve worked super hard to build.

These particular characteristics can hold a lot of power over our relationships, and if not managed properly, they can chip away at the bedrock of trust people have in us. 

In this story, we’re going to dive deep into the subtle personality traits that make people trust you less. Let’s begin.

1) An inability to understand or connect with others

Empathy — the ability to understand and connect with others on an emotional level — is incredibly important in the scheme of trust

When someone is oblivious to the feelings and needs of those around them, it sends the signal that they cannot be trusted.

If you find that you’re someone who isn’t very in-tune with others, and sometimes it can feel like you’re on a different wavelength to those around you, you might notice that your friends, family members, and partner might pull away from you, at times.

This is because empathy is the very foundation of connection and mutual understanding.

In order to progress deeper into our emotional connections, we need to actively show that we not only care for people; we understand them.

2) Always being late or flakey

Punctuality is a subtle yet significant indicator of a respect for other people’s time and commitments.

When someone frequently rocks up late to a planned event or cancels plans at the very last minute, trust can start to unravel.

Being consistently late or flakey sends a clear message that your time is more valuable than other people’s time. 

Perhaps you’ve been on the receiving end of this, or maybe you’ve even been the one dishing it out.

Trust is built on reliability, and habitual lateness or flakiness can erode that foundation.

I once had a colleague who was notorious for showing up half an hour late to work meetings. 

After this happened five or six times, I started to really feel like my time wasn’t respected. 

I also felt like my efforts as an employee were not taken seriously.

In the end, this person’s recurring lateness both made me lose trust in them, it also made me question whether they were even fit to be in their managerial role. 

3) Avoiding eye contact

The eyes are the windows to the soul, right? So, they play a vital role in person to person communication.

If you’re someone who isn’t too great with maintaining eye contact, for whatever reason, it can be a subtle characteristic that makes people trust you less.

Of course, this does not include people who are unable to maintain eye contact due to sensory or development issues.

Eye contact is a fundamental way we connect with others and show that we are sincere and authentic in our intentions.

Failing to meet someone’s gaze can be interpreted as avoidant or shifty behavior, making it difficult for others to trust your words and intentions.

I once went on a first date and the guy couldn’t maintain eye contact. I didn’t notice it much at first, but as the night went on, it really got to me.

It left me feeling uneasy and unsure about his intentions as a future romantic partner. 

Ultimately, I decided not to continue seeing him because I couldn’t trust his transparency and openness — which was a shame, as he otherwise seemed like a good match!

4) Prioritizing your interests and needs over others

pic1298 9 subtle personality traits that make people trust you less

Selfishness, especially in its subtle forms, can really damage trust within relationships. 

If you feel like you might consistently be putting your interests and needs ahead of others’, it can send the message that you can’t be relied on or trusted.

Trust is built on reciprocity and the belief that others will care about your needs just as you care about theirs.

When someone consistently prioritizes their own interests, it breaks this level of mutual care and leaves others feeling used.

It pains me to go back to this example, as it still annoys me even to this day, but I once had a roommate who would often eat my food without asking me or without even replacing it. 

Initially, I brushed it off as a little bit of an inconvenience, but over time, it became clear that she genuinely didn’t care about me or about the lengths I had gone to ensure I had mapped out my meals for the week.

Our trust continued to break down further, and it took a toll on our living situation, and what could have been a lovely friendship.

5) Shifting blame onto others

Owning up for your actions and decisions is a cornerstone of trust.

If you find that you routinely get defensive and resort to shifting blame onto other people, it can make people trust you less and less as time goes on.

This kind of blame-shifting jeopardizes trust because it shows an unwillingness to be accountable for your actions.

During a team project at work, I once had a coworker who consistently placed blame on other workers whenever things went south. 

Instead of taking responsibility and working collaboratively to find solutions, she pointed fingers at those around her, sometimes even junior employees with little power.

This definitely cut down our confidence in their abilities as a leader, and team morale suffered.

6) Making extravagant promises you can’t keep

We’ve all heard the saying, “Don’t make promises you can’t keep.” Yet there are still some people who can’t resist making lavish promises.

While it may seem harmless at first, consistently failing to keep up with the promises you make can dramatically impact trust.

This is because promises create expectations and hope. 

When these expectations are repeatedly shattered, trust takes a real hit. 

It’s very important to be able to match your words with your actions to maintain trust within relationships.

7) Frequently changing stories or recount of events

We’ve all embellished a few minor details in the name of telling a good story, but if you regularly change the bigger details in stories or in your recap of events, it can raise doubts about your honesty as a person.

When someone’s stories are constantly changing, it creates confusion and casts doubt on their authenticity, making it challenging to trust their words.

I had a friend who often embellished their stories to make them more exciting or dramatic. 

While it was initially quite funny, it became more and more challenging to distinguish fact from fiction.

My belief that they were an honest person dwindled, and it affected our friendship in the long run.

8) Expressing negative feelings through sarcasm

pic1269 9 subtle personality traits that make people trust you less

Sarcasm can be a fun and light-hearted form of humor when used properly. However, when someone habitually uses sarcasm to show negative feelings or criticism, it can break down trust.

Why is this? Well, sarcasm can be a veiled form of criticism that can mask our true feelings.

When someone consistently uses sarcasm to show their resentment, it creates an atmosphere of uncertainty, making it hard to figure out what their real intentions are.

I once had a boss who frequently used sarcasm to express frustration with our team’s performance. 

Instead of addressing issues directly, he would make these sarcastic remarks during meetings, which would make us all feel pretty uncomfortable.

This not only eroded our trust in their ability as a manager, it prevented us from being able to communicate openly and constructively.

9) An inability to accept feedback

We all make mistakes — it’s part of being human. 

But what happens when you encounter someone who can’t stomach even the gentlest critique or feedback? 

It’s like tiptoeing through a minefield, afraid to say anything that might set them off.

If you’re a person who recoils at the mere hint of feedback, it sends a message that you’re not open to growth or self-improvement

If you can’t accept feedback, it suggests a lack of humility and self-awareness, which can chip away at trust.

I once worked with a colleague who was brilliant at their job, but they had an ego the size of Mount Everest.

Whenever I tried to offer suggestions or constructive criticism, they’d become defensive and dismissive.

Eventually, I stopped giving feedback altogether. I couldn’t trust them to listen or learn from their mistakes, and it placed stress on our working relationship.

To sum things up, trust weaves relationships together, and it’s often the subtle personality traits that can either strengthen or weaken it.

From the inability to accept feedback to making extravagant promises, each of these quirks and habits can slowly erode the foundation of trust.

So, it’s crucial to be mindful of how our actions and behaviors impact the trust we share with others. 

Once we lose trust, it can be very difficult to rebuild, but with awareness and effort, it can grow stronger than ever before.

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Picture of Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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