It’s a well-established fact that we have a tendency to trust people we like.

 Similarities such as being from the same school, university, organization, region or country help you find common ground to connect. If the other person comes from a similar context, you are more likely to believe they’re as competent or skilled as you are. Many leaders end up hiring, recommending or promoting people who are just like them. 

 You might easily trust someone with a charismatic personality, too. Maybe you think their energy is infectious, or that they’re really fun to be around. This often happens at work, where people choose to work with colleagues they like or they’re friends with. While this might work in your social and personal life, in a professional set-up, basing your decision of whom to trust only on these two characteristics — similarity and likability — can backfire.

 When a leader or a manager trusts someone on the similarity quotient, chances are they will not be evaluated on the parameters required for the job. This person might not necessarily be competent or dependable. Similarly, when someone trusts another person only on the basis of their charismatic personality, it’s likely that they are overestimating their abilities, including trustworthiness.

 So when deciding whom to trust at work, remember to look beyond commonalities and popularity. These are superficial indicators of an individual’s trustworthiness.

Sanjay Deshpande is a Young India Fellow and worked at the NASSCOM Foundation. A curriculum specialist at Harappa Education, his collection of printed shirts elicits collective envy. Dancing keeps him going.

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