trust and judgement

Don’t trust everything you see. Even salt looks like sugar.

— from Power of Positivity (via Facebook)

ID-10070114 salt
Salt or sugar? What do you think? (Image courtesy of zole4 at


A while back I had an interesting conversation with two friends about a mutual acquaintance. I am going to call this person Charlie for ease of writing.

Without going into great detail, I have never trusted Charlie whereas others have thought wonderful things. Both of my friends were, within days of each other, burnt by Charlie; spoken to in a way which shocked them but was no surprise at all to me.

There is no rational explanation for the way I saw Charlie. I had no specific, personal cause for my feelings and attitude. It may have been exchanges I witnessed in passing, or my observations on the somewhat inflated sense of self-importance exhibited in the way Charlie spoke to others and went about certain activities.

I just ‘had a feeling’ and the feeling told me to steer clear. I was courteous in my exchanges with Charlie, but stayed away from personal and social exchanges.

Turns out, I was right — at least in this instance.

Having been burnt in the past, I now pride myself on being a relatively good judge of character; but I often wonder if I need to be more trusting and accepting when I first meet people. I do try not to take an instant dislike to people, but I often find myself wary and unwilling to make any firm judgement until I know the person, or until they have proven themselves.

That sounds very snobbish — but, I know other people who also do this; who have done it to me. In one job, I spent a good six months waiting for one colleague to engage in more than a work-related conversation. With another, it took nearly two years before I got more than a curt ‘good morning’ out of her. I didn’t mind, I knew what they are doing and why; I also suspect I was doing the same to them.

I consider both to be friends now. It took time, we all earned our stripes and the trust is there.

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

This is an idiom most often used to warn people against judging someone or something by its outward appearance alone; for the most part, it refers to a negative outside hiding a positive inside. It is a good thing to remember and live by.

But surely it applies both ways?

I tend to utilise this idiom the other way — a beautiful outside can hide a rotten core. This is not to say I believe everyone I meet to be rotten inside until they have proven otherwise, it’s just that I am wary and unwilling to form an opinion and let you into my world until I know more.

Being polite and friendly to everyone is something I advocate, and a behaviour I try to teach my children. But complete openness, letting people in and giving them access to your private self — this should be reserved for further down the track.

Believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see.

Benjamin Franklin said this; truer words were never spoken. His advice applies to gossip, news, information and, as far as I’m concerned, people. It is sage advice, particularly in a world where the internet reigns supreme and anybody can write anything on it; popular media also has a lot to answer for.

And, as for the human race, are we not masters of ‘keeping up appearances’ and saying what we think people want to hear?

Trust and belief in anything and anyone should not be automatic; they need to be earned.

There are moments when I wish I could be that bubbly, friendly, social person who  makes easy conversation with complete strangers, opening up their heart and soul. I have friends like this and they always see the best in others. They are truly beautiful beings and I am sure they meet many lovely, interesting people this way; more than I do at any rate.

BUT — I do worry about these same friends who just give everything of themselves to everyone the minute they meet them. Sadly, they sometimes end up getting hurt or are shocked by the attitude or actions of the other.

‘But they seemed so nice!’

Yes – and when they are out of their labelled containers, salt looks exactly like sugar.

What did you think the image at the top of this post was? Salt or sugar? I assumed sugar. It looks like sugar and it’s in a bowl I would associate with a sugar bowl.

It’s actually salt.  (Or is it? I am trusting the photographer gave an accurate description – believe only half of what you see.)


2 thoughts on “trust and judgement

  1. ‘Don’t take things at place value” AND ‘Be careful of wolves in sheep’s clothing’ AND ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’.

    All these quotes make us very wary when meeting people who cross our paths. Very often, I feel, we become perhaps too untrustworthy of different people whom we meet!! Maybe we’re too ready to judge people because something tells us not to ‘tick the boxes of acceptance’. Perhaps our slick world with all its ‘dog eat dog’ attitude demands we behave this way. It seems that society claims that it doesn’t matter who or what’s in our way, we should push them aside in our desire for satisfying our own ambitions to reach the top!! How sad is this situation it appears to me. I often say to students in certain scenarios in the classroom that ‘without trust we are nowhere!’ How can we gain knowledge without honestly justifying our beliefs? The questions keep swimming around in my old head.

    I guess the answer lies in living in a ‘perfect’ world. My conclusion is that we’ll never reach perfection, but we must never stop trying to make our diverse world more trusting, accepting and harmonious.

    In my opinion, Sir Laurence Olivier’s words about a simple, uncomplicated world may hit a few nails on the head:
    ‘I take a simple view of life: Keep your eyes open and get on with it’.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Absolutely agree – but I do think there is a fine balance between trust and standing back to assess the situation/person. A world without trust would indeed be awful; but a world with blind trust and no caution would be just as bad. The whole concept certainly opens up a can of worms and causes no end of conflicting questions, along with ‘if’, ‘but’ and ‘maybe’ scenarios.


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