Can You Trust Someone You Don’t Like

Can You Trust Someone You Don’t Like-1

Can You Trust Someone You Don’t Like

June 12, 2017

Can You Trust Someone You Don’t Like? 

“…You like me, right now, you like me!”- Sally Fields, 1985

“I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me. All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.”- Jackie Robinson, 1947

Can you trust someone you don’t like? Or can you like someone you don’t trust? While trusting and liking someone are not mutually exclusive, what can we gather from our relationships if we define them along the Trust versus Liking dimensions?

First, let’s define Trust and Liking.

According to Michelle and Dennis Reina, creators of the Reina Trust & Betrayal Model, trust is about contracting (credibility, consistency, keeping promises), communications (openness, truth-telling and vulnerability) and competence (believing in and involving others). Trust comes from a more cognitive/rational level.

On the other hand, Liking is about affection. The renowned social psychologist, Robert Cialdini defines liking to be about attractiveness, similarity and association/cooperation between individuals. Liking seems to come from an emotive level.

Based on the Trust and Liking dimensions, we can categorize relationships into 4 types as apparent from the Trust/Lining Matrix below:

Trust vs LikeCold Relationship (Low Trust/Low Liking)

Understandably, this type of relationship is not going to lead to much engagement and collaboration. It is almost like a meeting of strangers.


Casual Relationship (Low Trust/High Liking)

This relationship typifies casual friendship and acquaintances. It exists primarily for social interactions like meeting someone at a party and discover both of you have a lot in common to talk about. Or an old friend and schoolmate whom you can swap old stories..


Contractual Relationship (High Trust/Low Liking)

Here we are describing more formal and work-related relationships. Both parties cooperate to achieve a common end. They don’t have to enjoy each other’s company for mutual work to be done. Often, compromises need to be made in order to get things done.


Covenantal Relationship (High Trust/High Liking)

This relationship is to be aspired. It leads to real long-term collaboration (versus mere cooperation) where win-win is the order of the day. This type of relationship will stand the test of trials and time.


So How Can We Develop More Covenantal Relationships?

First of all, we need to accept the reality that we cannot and need not aim to build covenantal relationships with everyone. For one thing, liking and rapport is subjective. We cannot guarantee that everyone else will like us. Many uncontrollable variables like interpersonal chemistry, common background etc exist. Similarly, trust can be higher with some people than others. With some people, we cannot totally be vulnerable lest our interests get adversely impacted. With less trust-worthy individuals, we cannot freely believe and empower them.

We should develop covenantal relationships with people who are important enough to us to build collaborative ties with. With them, we can focus on the following:


Based on the Reina Model, to increase trust, we need to work on:

Contractual Trust Communication Trust Competence Trust
·      Manage expectations·      Establish Boundaries

·      Delegate appropriately

·      Encourage mutually serving intentions

·      Honor Agreements

·      Be consistent

·      Share Information·      Tell the truth

·      Admit mistakes

·      Give and receive constructive feedback

·      Maintain confidentiality

·      Speak with good purpose


·      Respect people’s knowledge, skills, and abilities·      Respect people’s judgment

·      Involve others and seek their input

·      Help people learn skills




According to Robert Caldini, to increase the chance of getting others to like us, we need to work on:

  • Be a good listener and show interest in others
  • Conversely, de-emphasize on your own self needs and ego
  • Go in with the mindset of how you can help others
  • Find common grounds and interests to focus conversations on
  • Mirror them as far as you can without being fake
  • Create a good impression in appearance, speech and mannerisms
  • Ensure more frequent and repeated contacts and interactions
  • Associate yourself with positive and favorable things, events, people etc


By mutually developing trust and liking in our key relationships, we can build more lasting and impactful collaborations in all areas of our lives.




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