Confidence, Trust and Vulnerability

We instinctively trust confident people, but is it really their confidence that spawns that trust?  Let’s find out.

Exhibiting confidence

Confidence manifests itself in so many ways that for most of us it’s a “we know it when we see it” kind of awareness.

One of the ways confidence manifests itself is humility. Confident people willing admit that they:

  • Don’t have all the answers.
  • Don’t know everything.
  • Can learn from everyone.

Inside humility is another characteristic that we find attractive, vulnerability. By admitting their inadequacies, confident people admit their vulnerabilities.

That begs the question “Is it the confidence or the vulnerability that elicits trust? To help us answer that question, let’s look at the flip side of the confidence coin…arrogance.


Confident people who are unwilling to admit their vulnerability are considered arrogant. We don’t deny their confidence, we doubt that it’s well placed given their lack of humility…their unwillingness to admit their vulnerabilities.

Even though arrogant people possess confidence, some would say an inflated and excessive amount of confidence, we don’t find them particularly trustworthy. We instinctively know that no one’s so bright, so talented, so gifted, so spectacular as to be free of human frailty. Consequently, we find it difficult to trust them.


The opposite is true for those who readily admit their vulnerabilities. We find it easy to trust them precisely because they’re being honest with themselves. People who are honest with themselves find it easier to be honest with others as well.

There’s no pretense, no self-aggrandizement, nor any denigration or diminution of their abilities, in people who admit their vulnerabilities. That’s what makes them so attractive…so trustworthy.

For you

If you want to quickly gain the trust of others, admit your vulnerabilities. People will not only appreciate your candor, they’ll admire your confidence.

For our kids

Your kids will pick up on the fact that you’re being honest about what you’re good at and where you need help. They’ll emulate that behavior, and in doing so, garner the trust of all they meet.

You can reinforce this lesson by helping them see that every time they admit a vulnerability the other person relaxes. Why? Because they know they can trust your child. When we trust, we naturally drop our guard as evidenced by a more open and relaxed posture.

As you and your kids see others relax in your presence you know that you’re being invited to a potentially lifelong, mutually-beneficial relationship. All because you admit your vulnerability.

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