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Whom Can You Trust?

By Marty Nemko

Our work environments are often stretched thin. We’re working harder with fewer resources, with downsizing often hanging over our heads like Damocles' sword. In such environments, our fellow employees often can’t be trusted—they’re looking out for #1, perhaps at your expense. Yet, to maintain our sanity, not to mention our jobs, we need people we can trust.

Do they exist? After all, if presidents lie and priests sexually abuse parishioners, can you really trust anyone at work? I believe you can. At every level, from clerk to CEO, there are saints and sinners, with most of us falling in between. I ask myself two questions to assess a person’s trustworthiness:

Does this person often do things to benefit others even when not in his self-interest?

Does she seem eager to help me?

Does his help usually turn out to be helpful? Some Machiavellians appear eager to help but deliberately don’t provide the best advice.

Once you’ve identified that rare treasure, nurture the relationship. Give thank-you notes and even small presents such as flowers or homemade brownies. More important, be equally helpful and trustworthy.

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