9 things you don’t realize you’re doing that make people mistrust you

Trust is a fickle thing. It takes years to build, and just seconds to break. And sometimes, without even realizing it, we do things that cause others to question our trustworthiness.

Now, I’m not talking about major betrayals here. I’m referring to those tiny, seemingly insignificant habits that can unknowingly make people doubt you.

In the following article, we’ll uncover the 9 subtle behaviors that could be eroding trust without your knowledge.

1) Oversharing

We all know someone who shares a little too much, a little too soon. And while they might think they’re just being open and honest, it can actually have the opposite effect.

The problem with oversharing is that it can make people feel uncomfortable. It’s like going on a first date and having the other person tell you their whole life story, including all their past relationship failures. It’s just too much information too soon.

Moreover, oversharing can make you seem like you’re trying too hard to be liked or trusted, which can actually make people trust you less.

2) Being inconsistent

Consistency is key when it comes to earning trust. People need to know what they can expect from you.

I remember this one time when I made plans to meet up with a friend for coffee. I was running late and, instead of informing them, I thought I’d just rush and make it in time. Unfortunately, I ended up being 20 minutes late.

My friend was understanding, but I could tell they were slightly put off. This was a wake-up call for me. Even though I had a valid reason for being late, my inconsistency in that moment had caused my friend to question my reliability.

From then on, I made it a point to always be on time or at least inform the other party if I was going to be late. 

3) Not maintaining eye contact

Eye contact is a powerful tool for building trust. It shows that you’re fully engaged and interested in what the other person has to say.

However, if you’re constantly looking around, checking your phone, or just not maintaining eye contact during a conversation, it sends the message that you’re not fully invested in the interaction.

And here’s the kicker: Research found that people who maintain eye contact during a conversation are often perceived as more reliable and trustworthy. So next time you’re in a conversation, make sure to maintain good eye contact. It’s a subtle yet effective way to build trust.

4) Breaking promises

Promises pack a punch, and reneging on them is like hitting the trust eject button. Sure, it might seem like a trivial slip-up, but to the person on the receiving end, it’s a trust torpedo.

Picture this: You pledge to help your buddy move into their swanky new pad next Saturday. They’re counting on your muscle and mojo, even turning down other helping hands because they took your word as gospel.

But when Saturday dawns, you ditch the moving madness for a last-minute brunch bash with another pal. You shrug off the moving commitment, thinking it’s no biggie since you can lend a hand later.

Yet, to your friend, it’s a trust tumble of Titanic proportions. They’re left feeling shafted, disillusioned, and flat-out betrayed by your broken promise, especially after passing on other offers based on your word.

Bottom line: Whether it’s flaking on a call-back promise or bailing on a task you committed to, these slip-ups scream ‘unreliable’ to those counting on you.

5) Negativity

youre in a toxic friendship 9 things you don't realize you're doing that make people mistrust you

We all have our down days, but if negativity is a constant in your interactions, it can cause people to mistrust you.

Why? Because negativity can be draining and people tend to distance themselves from sources of stress or discomfort.

Consistent negativity breeds mistrust because it’s like a perpetual raincloud, casting shadows over every interaction.

While occasional down days are part of life, a continuous stream of negativity becomes exhausting. People naturally gravitate towards positivity, seeking sources of upliftment rather than perpetual gloom.

When negativity becomes the norm, it creates an environment of stress and discomfort, prompting others to distance themselves to preserve their own well-being. 

6) Failing to listen

There’s a certain magic in feeling truly heard. It’s a rare experience, and one that can build trust like few other things can.

Yet, often, we’re so focused on what we want to say next, that we forget to truly listen to the person in front of us.

When you fail to listen, you’re sending a message that the other person’s thoughts and feelings are not important to you. And that can erode trust pretty quickly.

When you tune out, it’s like slamming the door on someone’s voice, signaling that their thoughts and feelings don’t matter. This lack of attentive listening sends a clear message of indifference, chipping away at the foundation of trust.

By disregarding their words, you dismiss their experiences and perspectives, fostering a sense of invalidation and disconnect. Genuine connection thrives on active listening and acknowledging the significance of others’ voices.

7) Not admitting mistakes

Nobody is perfect, and we all make mistakes.  But it takes courage to admit when you’re wrong.

I remember a time when I made a significant error in a project at work. My initial instinct was to cover it up, or find someone else to blame.

But then I realized that by doing so, I would only be hurting my own credibility. So, I owned up to my mistake, apologized and did everything in my power to rectify it. It wasn’t easy, but it was the right thing to do.

People respect honesty and humility. When you admit your mistakes, it shows that you value integrity over ego. It might seem like a small thing, but it can significantly boost people’s trust in you.

So don’t be afraid to own your mistakes. After all, we’re all human.

8) Lack of transparency

Alright, so here’s the deal: transparency is like the glue that holds trust together.

When you’re upfront and honest, it’s like saying, “Hey, I’ve got nothing to hide.” But when you start dodging questions or keeping things under wraps, it’s like waving a big ol’ flag that says, “Caution: sketchy behavior ahead!”

Let’s say you’re working on a group project with your classmates, and you’re responsible for a crucial part of the presentation.

But, uh-oh, you hit a snag and fall behind schedule. Instead of being upfront with your team about the setback and asking for help, you try to sweep it under the rug and hope nobody notices.

As the deadline looms closer, your teammates start to catch on that something’s off. They feel uneasy and start questioning whether they can rely on you.

y being transparent from the get-go and communicating the issue, you could have avoided all that stress and maintained their trust.

The moral of the story is: Being straight-up and open not only clears the air but also builds a solid foundation of trust. So, let’s keep it real and leave the shady stuff at the door, shall we?

9) Not showing empathy

When you fail to show empathy, it can make others feel like you don’t care about their experiences or feelings.  

Imagine confiding in a friend about a recent breakup, pouring your heart out about the pain and confusion you’re experiencing.

Instead of offering a listening ear and empathetic support, your friend responds with dismissive comments like, “You’ll get over it,” or “There are plenty of fish in the sea.”

Their lack of empathy leaves you feeling invalidated and misunderstood as if your emotions are being trivialized.

Over time, you begin to question whether your friend truly cares about your well-being or if they’re simply brushing off your feelings. This lack of empathy can sow seeds of mistrust and strain the friendship.

Trust is earned when actions meet words

It’s evident that fostering trust is not just a nicety, but a necessity in every facet of life. Whether in personal relationships, professional settings, or broader societal interactions, trust forms the cornerstone of meaningful connections. 

By prioritizing transparency, empathy, and active listening, we lay the groundwork for genuine understanding and mutual respect. When we commit to being open, honest, and attentive, we cultivate an environment where trust can thrive. 

To that I say: let’s embrace these principles, bridge divides, and build bridges of trust that withstand the tests of time, enriching our lives with deeper connections and shared understanding.

Picture of Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley, a London-based writer, is passionate about helping others discover the power of self-improvement. Her approach combines everyday wisdom with practical strategies, shaped by her own journey overcoming personal challenges. Eliza's articles resonate with those seeking to navigate life's complexities with grace and strength.

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