What are statements of mistrust? Why do the damage relationships?

Mistrust statements are comments or questions that suggest to the other person that you mistrust them, orlack confidence in their abilities, integrity, behaviors or commitment. Whether your comments and questions are accurate and factual or not, when you use mistrust statements, the other person will often react with defensiveness (e.g. That’s not true), or aggression (e.g. So what makes you the judge and jury).

Remember that even when a person does not deserve your confidence or trust, lets say when a person is habitually sloppy or incompetent, their reactions will still be negative.

Here are a few examples of mistrust type statements:

Are you SURE (strong verbal emphasis) that you will have this in on time?”

“I’ve heard that before.” (notice that the mistrust is implied)

Often we express mistrust in the hope that the other person will “get it”, and change their behaviors for the better, but the reality is that they almost never have a positive or desired effect. It’s understandable why we use these kinds of remarks, particularly when we are angry or upset, but they are best avoided in the service of building better relationships and communication. Finally, it’s good to remember that if you express mistrust of another, that other person is likely to mistrust you. Mistrust breeds mistrust.

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