Trust, Authority, & the Human Factor

From the perspective of someone looking for you, you will be found more readily if you are specialized.  A handy man might be able to fix your furnace, but a furnace guy definitely could (should?).  And yet, if I needed a room painted, I certainly wouldn’t call the furnace guy.  Specialists are considered experts for specific problems.  There is high value for being an established solution to an identified issue.

But what if the diagnostics are off?  How does one come to trust a diagnostic?  Do they put their faith in the data gathering machine or the person who reads the data?  Are they informed enough to know where the data comes from or what it means, apart from this medium that insists (suggests?) it has the answer?

We fail to believe we can be specialists in ourselves.  We don’t have the schooling, or the hours, or the experience.  (We absolutely do, but we got distracted; as one does when class lasts every hour of every day).  More so than the understanding, we want the fix.  Which is why we are so often sold on labels or definitive diagnoses — they identify a problem for which a tried and true solution is attached.

So whom does one trust to help name things, and how does one go about finding the fix?   When do things get bad enough to act, and where do they know where to go?  Google and YouTube are likely their first independent investigations.  (Nobody would share something that didn’t work, would they?) Then they will likely ask someone with commonality and know-how in their social circle: a peer or older friend/ relative.  If no resolution is found (convinced or actual), they will then consider contacting an outside of established networks expert on the issue.

Regarding health, after a few day ‘waiting period’ to see if conditions worsen (and if they have insurance and a precedent relationship established) the first step is typically setting up an appointment with their primary doctor, a general physician.  This generalist either diagnoses the problem and offers up a behavioral or medicinal solution, or refers the patient out to a specialist.  The patient reports to this stranger on the recommendation of his doctor, whose trust has become transferable.


There is a systemic organization of assistance and authority.


Consider the grocery store.  There are just ‘grocery stores’ and there are one-stop shops such as Walmart and Fred Meyer.  There are places that carry a little bit of everything and places that sell specialty items.  Ultimately, convenience dictates action.  Which store is closest?  How badly do you want that one item that you know can only be found across town?

Once you enter the store, envision the layout.  Isles and labels and sections.  There are places that are familiar and places you never go.  Habit dictates the routes we tread.

When looking for a packaged good, you can identify them quickly by label and color.  They are purposely distinct.  Even trademarked.  You reach for what you know you like and are used to, even if it costs more and sits right next another option that is objectively and realistically exactly the same thing.

On the rare occasion where we have the time and wherewithal to challenge our beliefs, we are quick to confirm our bias.  We look to the ingredients and or nutrition facts.  Ten calories less per servingAn extra gram of protein.  The second and third ingredients are swapped.  I was right.  Campbell’s is superior.  The store knows it.  The other soups know it.  That’s why they can charge more.

Peeling back a layer, imagine trying to find a can of green beans without a system of organization; everything was just strewn about.  What if you just wanted food?  Would bags of chips amidst the rutabegas help you decide more quickly what you wanted?  When presented as an either/ or, the choice becomes quite clear.  The negation of possible options is intended to help the consumer choose efficiently, because fast choices get the item to the checkout.  The store is contingent in declaring what exists and what is worthy of review.

The internet serves as the modern day general store. The search engine depicts the look and uniform, and the search bar acts as the virtual clerk.  Algorithms determine which items are brought to you first.  The feed is the ultimate shelving system, always eye-level in a singular row, with a depth that lasts as long as you are willing to scroll.

Looping back to the beginning, if you are sure of what you need the internet will efficiently and effectively deliver it to you.  If you have a general problem, however, you will be directed to multiple products and/or services, and their visibility is based on advertising dollars spent.  Getting a product to your home no longer needs any human interaction (when is the last time you even saw the delivery person?).  The product you eventually choose, ironically, is based on trusting the reviews of faceless beings.


We tend to trust people unless they are selling us something,  yet we are intrigued if they are selling themselves.


How do we choose a person to perform a service?  It depends on the service and the perceived level of investment.  I’m going to be a lot less scrutinizing for small jobs vs. big jobs.  It also depends whether or not I want to learn about the act so I can hypothetically do it on my own: can they help me help myself?

My car is something I’m willing to completely outsource, and I came upon trying a particular mechanic because of a coupon book he put out.  Long since phasing them out, I am still with him.  He speaks to me in plain language, in a logical manner, and is honest and sincere about what work needs to be done when.  (This was proved repeatedly to me by him assuring me I could put off expensive maintenance work, for several months, when I was ready to cut him a check.  Putting me above his bottom line matters.)

When it comes to a bodily service, we have to sort through throngs of people providing multitudes of methods to essentially change our bodies.  We are certain that we don’t like something about it.  But we need to be convinced that the solution someone is offering matches the actual problem.  Many times we even want to be swayed.  Something is better than nothing.

What we’re REALLY buying, though, is the person in which the service revolves around.  Along with cost and convenience (flatlining in these online days) we assess popularity, social media, look, attractiveness, cost, level of expertise, body of work, ‘quality’/status of clientele, their logo, the design of their website… basically anything that will tell me what kind of human this is.  What stands out is whether they are someone I can ask questions to.  Do they respond?  How quickly?  Do they respond with sureness or seeking to know more about me and my situation before breaking down pricing options?


People want to be sold a better version of themselves.

People looking to work with other people have to be human first.  Not specialists, but situationalists.  To an electrician, the walls just act as walls.  They follow a fixed set of rules and are simply ‘done to’.  The people component requires the practitioner to adapt, and we tend not to honor that perspective in the modern world (particularly if they work with ‘regular’ people).

Those who work under are large umbrella with the general population should be held in more esteem, not less, because they are trying to solve a multitude of issues with a multitude of bodies and personalities.  They are indexing hundreds of inputs to try and create an effective output.  They are creating a system of seeking and finding and testing, trusting experience above and beyond all the books, and research, and certifications.

Consider your own methods of developing trust.  How does something or someone come to appeal to you? Is it instant or does it take time?  What are they promoting and how are they promoting it that makes you act and/or keep returning there?  Ultimately, are you buying know-how, habits, or beliefs?

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