Trust and Tolerance

Someone told me that she just realized that I really do not trust people – I merely tolerate them. Hmmm…I never thought of that. I mean, I do trust people albeit only up to a certain safe extent. Like in lending money, for instance. If someone close to me asks for a loan, I make sure that the amount I lend is not more than what I am prepared to cover in case payment is delayed or defaulted.

And for this I was accused of not trusting but merely tolerating the anticipated worst-case scenario.

I remember this risk management seminar I took more than a decade ago. It taught us that risk has two dimensions: probability and magnitude. So in a four-quadrant matrix, risks are roughly classified as low-probability/low-magnitude (there’s a 5% chance that you’ll lose P5,000), high-probability/low-magnitude (there’s a 95% chance that you’ll lose P5,000), low-probability/high-magnitude (there’s a 5% chance that you’ll lose P100,000), and high-probability/high magnitude (there’s a 95% chance that you’ll lose P100,000).

I’d say I’m a risk taker even if the probability of losing is high for as long as the magnitude is low. But once a lot is at stake, I tend to play it safe, no matter how ‘safe’ they say the odds are.

In a certain company, the president explained the importance of credit security. The example he gave was about one sales executive who authorized the sale of goods worth a substantial amount without credit security because of the mutual trust he enjoys with the customer. The president said, “Okay, this customer is very trustworthy in terms of his ability and willingness to pay, and I take that. But what if he suddenly dies of a stroke, and the one who takes over the business is not as reliable?”

I guess we can only trust another person’s intentions, because if we try to consider the possible circumstances beyond that person’s control, e.g., a sudden stroke, we realize that we will be taking risks. However, if the calculated risks are deemed manageable and not unnecessary, it is never unwise to take them.

Perhaps I have unconsciously applied this business principle to my personal life. I do trust people, but only up to their intentions. If I foresee certain significant risks that were not explicitly considered by the person to whom I would be giving my trust, I back out. Unfortunately, sometimes people take it personally.

But some people do have the right to take it personally, especially the one I consider as my life partner, my ‘soulmate’. To hesitate when I think there might be risks unforeseen by the person demanding my trust could mean I don’t trust her judgment. I do trust her intentions; maybe just not her judgment. And in a way, that could mean I don’t trust her at all.

This may be a hard reality for me. But if it’s any consolation, I never totally trust anyone’s judgment – not even my own. I just tolerate and try to manage the calculated risks.

And so to the person who said that I don’t really trust her but merely tolerate her, let me say it this way: I trust you to the point that I can sleep soundly with you by my side with a loaded gun in your hand. Now there’s a risk that you’d have a nightmare of being attacked and so you’d shoot the ‘attacker’ – me, or out of simple clumsiness you’d accidentally fire the gun pointed in my direction. But while the magnitude of the risk is too high, the probability is very much lower than you leaving because you think I don’t trust you. Besides, the magnitude of the risk of losing you isn’t too far from the magnitude of the other risk involving a loaded gun in your hand. inner minds


6 Responses to “Trust and Tolerance”

  1. November 26, 2009 at 12:06 am

    It’s amazing how you would inject magnitude and probablities into the issue of trusting your life partner. I probably wouldn’t be able to stand having a life partner that won’t trust my judgment. Sorry that this may come off in a bad light. What does it mean to call someone your life partner if you don’t trust her/him? Trusting her/his intentions but not his/her judgment. What does that mean?

    But since you’re on the track of quantifying risks and mentioned how it is in your Company, let me tell you how it is in the real world where my life revolves around. At work, everyday we give numbers, a range of numbers. What are numbers but figures, imagine 349.5. They’re just numbers yet they could be worth 5 million dollars or more, could be worth our actual jobs. We give numbers based on actual imperfect incomplete data and a whole lot of analysis and interpretation. Our superiors build on these numbers, of course after making sure that these numbers make sense. The point is even superiors have to trust their staff’s judgment on numbers to some extent. Add to that, everyday the stock market fluctuates but we use other people’s best judgment to estimate the prices tomorrow, in the next 6 months, in 5 years, in 10 years, and use this for our own project economics. There’s so much at stake here. But all these talk about probabilities and risks and uncertainties apply to economics and business principles as you mentioned. But would you calculate decision trees and apply a distribution curve with mean, median, mode to trusting people in your personal life?

    Although I do not know you enough, I would assume you’re a skeptic through and through. But I maybe wrong and I hope I’m wrong. If you don’t trust then you’ll never vote, you’ll never eat food that’s prepared by someone else, you’ll never jump in a car if you’re not the person behind the wheel. Would you say that you trust these other people’s intentions and not their judgment in leading, in cooking and preparing food, in driving, etc?

    You recognize that there are things beyond our control and you should also recognize that you are bound by these same things. Say, what’s the chance that you will wake up the next day? If we want to put it to an extreme level, you never trusted the world to begin with, you had no idea what’s life gonna be like and you never asked to be born but you are here. Isn’t it surprising how you survived up to this point against all odds? What I’m getting at is that most of the time, we cannot quantify. Evolution surely didn’t hardwire us to do just that. So you gotta trust that things will work out. It’s cliche but I believe that’s true. Most of all, we cannot quantify circumstances and apply this to very intangible things such as trusting one’s life partner.

    But that’s just me. And you probably trust my intentions but not my judgment anyway :p


  2. 2 willa
    November 26, 2009 at 2:22 am

    despite the numerous times one or more people i know ruined my trust over them. i still manage to trust and tolerate them. for i know people do change and what the heck, we give chances for everyone even to a stranger, example: givin them a change to get to know you when you find them interested of you. ofcourse, money terms.. i`ve lent some people with some amount of money. it came to a point they weren`t able to pay. but still, i help them if they ask, only no money involve. even if my losses counts big from previous. let say im really bad in “singilan issues” . minsan naawa ako, or i get tired na after a long long long period of “singilan”. im not rich. but i`m sure i know how to earn. and yet, here i am again.. into a lending business, no collaterals or whatever. just pure trust and tolerance.

  3. 3 zaurah patricia
    November 26, 2009 at 2:53 am

    perhaps this whole point is the reason why we need people and partnerships. we co-exist. some exist to balance the other, and vice versa. whatever peculiarity (whether pleasant or not) that is shared and unshared, gives the other an opportunity for growth and learning. furthermore, partners may not think and act alike, but the essence of getting to the whole process of learning and adjusting with each other makes the partnership more workable at the same time logical to have existed in the first place.

    on a more personal aspect, all i know is that we love, respect and compliment each other’s complexities. on the other hand, i think there are still thousands of odd things to discover individually and collectively as we go along which i guess is sufficient enough to keep us workable during our lifetime. but let me tell you lalab that no matter how often you tell yourself that you dont trust my judgment, that is just a general rule with several exceptions. it so happen lalab that you know better than i do.. and when i insist on my judgment, you sometimes tolerate it because you want me to grow unless there is bigger magnitude at stake that would cost us our relationship. but on a smaller scale where you hardly notice yourself, i could see you completely lalab. you do trust me with my judgments and intuitions when you are clueless in streets. most of the time, you rely entirely on my instructions in giving you directions while you are driving. sometimes, you completely surrender your trust to me when you need to learn from me some matters involving law, art, women’s issues, etc. you likewise rely on me as someone who is considered as street smart.

    i never doubted you on issues of trust lalab. somewhere, somehow.. i just need to be reminded why i’ve come to love you this far and this long.. sometimes, i tend to forget those small things we do for each other.

  4. 5 Ligaya Fernandez
    May 16, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    oh dear. I so hate making decisions. That’s why its actually easier sometimes to just “jump”-as crazy as that may sound. My ultimate dream is to have that software owned by Ben Stiller in the movie “Along Came Polly” where it calculates the risks involved & recommends the safer course of action, even in something as inane as choosing bet.2 women(the better bet was Polly-Jennifer Aniston). Still, I like what you said that you don’t even totally trust anyone’s judgement – not even your own. Conceding to that should make matter a tad more palatable to your soulmate. =)

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Attempts at uncovering the underlying simplicity beneath apparently complex concepts as well as the core complexity within seemingly straightforward issues


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