Taking People At Their Word


As a child, I was taught to take people at their word. I continue to live this way.

This means, if you tell me something, I’m going to believe you.  This is true, even if what you say is implausible, provided you are not a known liar.  If you are a known liar, I’m not apt to believe anything you say.

That’s sounds extreme when I write it, but it adheres to the idea my grandfather taught me: most people are good people.  He suggested I should treat everyone as if they’re good natured, until they prove themselves otherwise.

This seemed smart, reasonable and logical at the time. It still does, to me, even though I think people are a lot less forthcoming then they were in his era. It doesn’t matter.  We all have our way we want to be in the world and this is the way I choose to live.  If I’m tricked more than others, so what? I still think it’s the better choice.

I’m noticing, it’s less common that people take others at their word.  Interactions are cagey which is highly detectable and disturbing to my Mars Mercury conjunct in my 9th.  I’m a straight shooter with a true aim so when I come across a bunch of squiggliness, I think, oh my God, what is this?  I can’t take a person at their word because there is no actual word!  Monday, Tuesday, Friday, nine-o-clock and June!  What does that mean?

Setting my personal problem aside, what does it mean when human beings don’t believe other human beings?  When an honest person can make a no-frills, honest statement; their statement is overridden by… whatever it is that makes a person feel no one is trustworthy or deserves the benefit of the doubt?

Mercury is retrograde and combust today… squaring the moon in Gemini. What a dilemma.

What is your rule on this?  Do you tend to trust people? Or are you more likely to be mistrustful of words of others?

10 thoughts on “Taking People At Their Word”

  1. After a lifetime of trust then bust I find my self always looking for the lowest common denominator. My heart wants to trust but my brain nags and picks even apart once I get a whiff of weirdness. Like your grandpa always said, when someone tells you who they are- believe it!

  2. Avatar
    Shimmering Light

    What’s the difference between trusting, gullible and observant? I think it does depend on the context. I do not believe people are deliberately out to deceive others (except for crooks and politicians). However, it pays to be observant.

    If someone’s words don’t match their actions then there is an issue. This discrepancy can be deliberate or, more likely, unconscious meaning the other person is unaware of their own motivations. Doesn’t mean this person is ‘bad’ just that reading between the lines gives you a fuller and more accurate picture than taking them by their word.

  3. This came up, in part, because the plumber that has been doing work on our house dropped the ball. He said his truck and his phone both went out.

    I know this sounds like, the dog ate my homework, but I chose to believe him because his work is excellent, I am comfortable with him in the home and I simply know that unusual things happen.

    Weeks later, more information emerges. The man’s truck is still down – it was the computer that went out and it took the phone with it? Or the phone took the truck, he doesn’t know. But his truck is STILL in the shop. Chip supply or whatever. The man also broke three ribs, I think he’s having a transit.

    I understand I may be gullible… I actually know I am gullible. But I do not KNOW this man is lying so until I do, he deserves the benefit of the doubt.

    It’s possible I do so much work with people in crisis, I am very aware of how a person can get hit from all sides. I’m not the only one like this. Most people I’ve discussed this with, are suspicious but the gal who does my hair was an example of someone who leans my way.

    Her advice? “Just give him some time….”

    I loved hearing this, because while it’s been no fun waiting, it was my inclination. My husband felt similar. Not same, but similar.

    I think it we expect people are lying to us all the time, it’s probably more detrimental than being occasionally tricked.

    I owe the plumber money at this point, for work he’s already done. That’s another big piece. How is he screwing me over when he’s not been paid for his work?

  4. I definitely tend to trust people. I don’t feel it’s a choice it’s just the way I operate. So when my guts don’t trust you I know to be aware. It’s not always straightforward but one way or the other it pans out.

  5. Innocent until proved otherwise.

    If you really piss me off, lie to me or otherwise attack me from an angle I didn’t expect, I will sort my feelings out (it may take time), but I will not give you the benefit of the doubt again.
    That door will close, and unless YOU are the party who wants to get into my good graces again and have my trust (and believe me, my Spidey senses can tell if you are sincere or not), I will keep you at an arm’s length.

    I don’t know how many times I have given my dad the benefit of the doubt (alcoholic, traumatized and ADHD ridden man), and each time have led me to be disappointed. I try to give him leeway, due to his background and ADHD, but I saw what it did to my mother, and I will not be on the same train.

    Unfortunately it made me find partners who got away with too much due to that trust, that I have my gun loaded and pointing – not shooting, but pointed – until I can see it wasn’t as I thought.

    I have some triggers I need to work on, but I also know that trust is a choice. Just like love ain’t a feeling, trust is something we give to others for our own sake.

    I have struggled many years to grasp the concept of forgiveness, because I really sucked at it.
    It wasn’t untill recently I realized that just like trust, forgiveness is something we GIVE to others. And to ourselves, depending on the situation. If we want to trust them, and we love them, we need to give forgiveness as well. It’s not about relinquishing your power, rather you do it from a place of standing in your own power when you forgive another for their wrongs, because the intention behind the action or words are seldom or rarely evil, but often good. It is true though, that sometimes the road to Hell is paved with good intentions….

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