8 Ways to Spot Untrustworthy People


Another one on trust!!! As I said in a previous post, I’m a stickler for trust. Without that, I don’t think we can clearly distinguish ourselves from a carnivore that eats whatever it can when hungry. But still, we find untrustworthy people, who, in their late 20’s, think the best way to survive in “today’s world” is being manipulative.  I really feel the urge to ask them how many other worlds they know. I don’t, and before I digress, these are some traits I’ve noticed pretty consistently in untrustworthy people.

  • Not Sticking to Commitments – They don’t stick to their own commitments and find ways to the blame the meekest person, or the weather for that matter for not meeting them. Seriously, I had a team member who blamed sudden rains for not meeting deliverables, and he was in office that day.
  • Back Talking – They talk to you nicely, but talk about others in a, hmm, not so nice way. But if you catch them talking nicely to the same people whom they bitched about to you, don’t be surprised.
  • Seeing everyone as competition – They really can’t differentiate between a peer and a competitor. In their world, there is only one survivor at the end of each and every day, and as a result, it is imperative they should be the one. Many people can argue that is the case in reality, but it need not be – and I can write a 1500 words post on that alone.
  • Being politically right – Being nice is more important for them than being right. Such people just can’t talk anything on your face, nice or otherwise. There is always a hidden personal agenda. Sometimes, it can also be a result of the organization culture. I worked in a company that had an online training program titled Being Politically Savvy. I was not sure if it was a joke, but it reflected in the way most of the employees dealt with each other in that company.
  • Blab information – They pride in knowing information others don’t. Most times, the information might not even pertain to the conversation. It just does not matter. They know something, and even if they were not supposed to say it, they will, because they need to prove they know more than you.
  • Also, conceal information – This is also a typical trait. They believe in playing their cards close to their chest – which is not wrong – but many times, they conceal information to such extent that it even leads to failure of larger goals, if they don’t have major stakes on those results. If they do, they display traits of point 1. Sometimes, you can spot the same person showing this and the previous trait. They blab totally unrelated information, but conceal important information that leads to success of a common goal.
  • Flaunt a false sense of power – If such people are somewhere in the junior/middle management, they just don’t know what power is. Their only notion of power is – getting their subordinates to listen to them and not think. Well, do I really have to expand this further – I’m sure all of have had such bosses or even been one. Just a confession – I’ve had such bosses and also been one. But then, there are people who don’t have to be bosses to exhibit such traits.
  • Flaunt contacts they don’t have – If you know people who always know someone in anyplace, then you know what I’m talking about. The moment you utter some kind of problem or help you need, they fire all guns to tell you they know someone who can help you, but invariably that person would not be available just when you need them, though they had a conversation only the previous week. This might sound an innocuous trait, but please don’t depend on such people to get something done. And hey, I have done that many times over – to feel a false sense of pride.

These are some traits I have observed from my own experiences. I’m sure there are more, so how do you spot untrustworthy people?

Business is not a War – and can never be…


I come across many articles and thoughts that directly relate business situations to a war and how business leaders are like leaders of an army, and how their subordinates fall into various ranks till the last foot soldier.

For heaven’s sake, I would vehemently oppose any such comparisons with all that I have. Please do not dis-respect people who protect our sovereignty without even knowing who we are, and are prepared to lay down their lives for intangibles. In fact, one post I came across said in a war there are bullets and in business there are deadlines. Sure, but you can’t die of deadlines, and bullets are meant to kill you. Moreover, there is always a scope for win-win solutions in business if the leader is mature enough for that, but in a war, it’s almost always a no-win situation. I hope you would agree that the gains of a war are not worth the price paid for it. I’m no M.K.Gandhi to preach non-violence here, but looking at the current economic situation and looking back on the great depression, that’s a thought hard to ignore.

By the way, I don’t know what it is to be a soldier – I have never been one and neither have any of my closest family members or friends – but I’m confident what they do is much beyond what any business leader can ever think of doing. Even the likes of Steve Jobs – RIP!!!

But in my mind, business leaders & managers can do one thing all leaders of the armed forces do – lead from the front – a phrase I’m sure was picked up from the armed forces. This, in my mind, is one of the few phrases that be used to draw parallels between a war and business – in a much diluted form though. Leading from the front in a business situation can probably mean this:

Taking accountability for failures, spreading credit during successful times, and dirtying hands when there is a need.

Beyond that, I feel any further comparison to a war is simply under-estimating what soldiers do for our respective nations. OK, maybe a few more “war” phrases can be applied to businesses too – and I’m looking forward to knowing them.

So, do you honestly believe war and business can be spoken about in parallel breaths?

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