A SNAKE IN YOUR WOODPILE

Trust can be a very delicate construct. Every day we make choices about who we can and cannot trust, and if we can, how much trust we should extend. Hopefully when it comes to family, we have more latitude to rely on one another.

However, when it comes to work, it is best to be on one’s guard. That’s not to say one should be completely skeptical of others’ intentions when it comes to one’s best interests. Perhaps consider being observantly wary of others until they either earn more of your trust or, conversely, prove themselves to be untrustworthy.

At work, we spend so many of our waking hours with business associates, it’s nice to be able to feel like one can be open and completely honest, “letting them in.” Is there a safer and more circumspect way to be, though? Until one has developed a very strong bond of trust with a coworker, best not to let one’s guard down too much.

It’s nice to think of our coworkers as friends, and often that does become the case. Sometimes, though, and especially with untrustworthy folks, letting one’s guard down can lead to problems, hurt feelings and worse. People can pretend to be a friend, all the while talking behind one’s back, being overtly disrespectful, and hypocritically wishing one ill.

If you catch sight of potential inconsistencies in how your coworkers treat you or others, it’s a good idea to pay close attention. According to Maya Angelou, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

I’m not proposing a permanent, “wall-building” paranoid state of being; I’m simply advocating one be observant, careful and prudent during that period when someone is trying to earn your trust. And if someone violates your trust, believe what they are communicating to you.

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