How To Work with Someone You Don’t Trust

Most of us don’t have the luxury of choosing who we work with and, unfortunately, not everyone can be trusted. You already know this, and you probably learned it the hard way like the rest of us. There is no magic wand that you can wave over people to make them more trustworthy. What’s baffling is that why wouldn’t someone want to be trustworthy? Do they know or even care that you, and possibly others, are reluctant to trust them? Regardless, these people do exist, and you must figure out how to work with them. No one likes to work while constantly looking over their shoulder. This creates a stressful environment where more problems are caused than are solved. 


There are several types of trust issues you may encounter with co-workers and supervisors. There is blatant dishonesty where you know someone is deliberately not telling you the truth. Sometimes we work with others who are so disrespectful that you constantly must keep your guard up when you are around them. Let’s not forget about the gossip mongers who can, and will, embellish just about anything and spread bad information like a virus. Perhaps you are working with someone who envies your skills and accomplishments, and you detect their resentment. What about co-workers who are obsequious (suck-ups) and who will do and say anything to get ahead? Then there are just co-workers who live to create and indulge in drama. Ugh! How can we navigate our work environment when there are so many pitfalls? If you find yourself in one of these situations, here are some helpful tips to help limit your risks and get through your day.


Keep it professional – Keep your guard up when you know you are around someone who can’t be trusted. Limit conversations about your opinions, personal life, and ideas in general. Untrustworthy people love to gather intel under the disguise of genuine interest for their own selfish agenda.

Avoid drama – Distance yourself from drama whenever possible. Office drama is a race to the bottom that no one wins. Remove yourself from conversations where you detect gossip. Drama is always someone else’s way of baiting you into something you know you shouldn’t be doing. 

Discuss your concerns – If appropriate, be sure to share your concerns professionally with someone else higher up in the food chain. Perhaps they can help or maybe they are getting this feedback from other people as well. The purpose is not to stir up drama, but to bring a concern to management’s attention. 

Request third parties – If there is a critical conversation that must be had with someone you do not trust, invite someone else along to be a simple impartial observer. This is not to create an audience, but to limit the amount of conjecture than can occur when there are only two witnesses to a conversation. 

Keep a paper trail – No one likes long emails, but sometimes you must cover your rear and the best way to do this is with documentation. This shouldn’t be used as entrapment, but rather to make sure that all necessary facts are on record if your character or actions are called into question. 

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