Respect is given. Trust is earned.

If you want to make progress in your life and career, you’re going to need to meet people where they are. Please check your emails.

I’m going to sound a little rude in this blog post, but don’t take it the wrong way. I want the best for you, and I want the best for me, but sometimes people really love to get in the way of themselves achieving their goals.

Common sense isn’t all that common. Given the wide variety of cultural, educational, and economic backgrounds, people are all quite different. The phrase “common sense” itself is a bit misleading, because it implies that all people at all times know the same “common” things, but that’s simply not the case. Kids have to learn these “common sense” things, and even some adults do. We all learn at a different pace.

A classic xkcd comic that’s perfectly relevant

My point is, today you might be learning something new that seems like it should be common sense to everyone. I might also learn something new. That’s alright! Don’t let it get you down. Learning means you’re alive.

Alright, with that out of the way, let me tell you a little story that you may or may not understand the “common sense” lesson from.

No, you actually DO have to “earn” trust

I once hired a guy who did some gig work for me for some months. He was talented, but he struggled with meeting deadlines and completing specific tasks. Patience and grace is a pretty big cornerstone to how I like to manage my team members, and there was no difference with this contractor. After months of missing deadlines and not making progress, I was still paying him for the hours he said he had worked even though I had nothing to show for it.

Some people would say that was foolish, and that’s perfectly fine. I recognize that paying someone for no immediate return is risky, but it’s not something I really care about. I had the extra funds to cover any potential loss, and I’m a firm believer that people who feel they are valued, even if they miss the mark, will be able to turn things around later on. Speaking from experience, sometimes people who are struggling with a wide variety of problems could actually get their head in the right place to solve those problems if they had firm financial ground to stand on. So, I paid the guy and hoped he could get settled, solve some of his other challenges, and not add to his stress or self-worth judgements.

But, eventually, that had to change. After months of receiving nothing and paying hundreds of dollars, I had to confront him. It took several conversations, each with a stern warning and his apologies, but eventually the time came to cut ties. We couldn’t work together anymore. I fired him. I didn’t ask for any money back, and in fact I made one last payment of just over $100 for the hours he put towards work he would never deliver, but the decision to part ways was final.

His response was to tell me I was the worst client he had ever had, and that I was manipulative and harmful on a personal level. Ouch.

I let him speak for a while, but eventually we got to a stopping point. He said something to the affect of, “You are a terrible person because you say I have to earn your trust. You should give trust by default and not make people work for it.”

No, my friend, that is not how this works.

Respect I will give by default. Respect is what I do give by default. In fact, I would (humbly) argue that I give by default much more than the required amount of respect, patience, and grace. But trust is a different matter entirely.

Respect is how we speak to each other, how we treat each other as fellow human beings. Trust is removing boundaries and allowing people into our protected spaces. We should treat each other humanely by default, but we should NOT be removing our boundaries by default.

Your boundaries are critically important to the development of your life, career, and personal endeavors. Your mental and physical well-being depend on you having healthy boundaries in place and not allowing others to break them down. No one is allowed to come into your house without your permission, and no one is allowed to go around your boundaries without your permission, either. Trust is all about boundaries and who is allowed inside of them.

Why are you being so annoying?

Did you know that businesses are run by human beings that have their own boundaries and levels of trust as well?

I’m not sold on this statement being “common sense” beyond a simple acknowledgment that the words exist in that order. You might agree with it on the surface level, but experience tells me that most people don’t acknowledge this truth through their actions.

You see, if you want to participate in society and build a professional career, especially if you want to do it as a business owner or self-employed individual, there are certain rules you need to follow. These aren’t unspoken rules, or hidden secrets that only “neurotypical” people will understand. These are “common sense” rules that are stated time and time again openly and publicly that people seem to love to ignore out of personal convenience.

By “rules”, of course, I am referring to “boundaries”. It’s just another word describing the same thing. Social, economic, and business structures dictate that there are boundaries which are acceptable limits to how much a group (or the human beings make up that group) will trust you.

Sometimes that group is a business, sometimes it’s an individual, sometimes it’s a social network. The groups themselves can be varied, but you probably know what they are if you’re trying to interact and engage with them. Maybe you want to get a job, or maybe you want to get more followers on YouTube. The point is: There is a group that exists and that group is made up of human beings who have boundaries and trust that is earned through your respect of those boundaries.

And yet, time and time again, people seem determined to get in their own way and demanding those groups bend to their will and convenience. Let me give you some examples:

  • If you want a brand to sponsor your live streams, why don’t you make contact information available?
  • If you want to participate in public social media, why do you get mad when people quote-retweet you?
  • If you want to get professional contract employment for gig work, why do you refuse to sign a contract?
  • If you want to build a solid Minecraft server community, why don’t you check your server’s contact email?

There are explanations and answers and excuses for each one of these, and all of them demand trust be given freely with no respect for boundaries of others out of a desire for personal convenience.

  • “Because I don’t want to get spam or unsolicited contact”
  • “Because it reduces the impressions I get on my content”
  • “Because I don’t want legal responsibility if the contract work doesn’t go well”
  • “Because it takes time to log into the server’s email account”

THOSE are examples of unspoken rules and boundaries that you have created which no one can know about without getting to know you first. The tools were created and are readily available for you to use to achieve your goals, but you refuse to use them because of some inconvenience. How is a human being who is a part of a group supposed to know what your unique rules are if they don’t know you already, especially when your rules may actually be a red flag for some malicious intent?

By having those unspoken rules, you are asking people to ignore the red flags and to immediately trust that those red flags don’t apply to you. Or maybe they aren’t “red flags” per se, but they do send a message to the group. Such as:

  • 🚩 You don’t have contact info because you aren’t interested in having sponsors
  • 🚩 You don’t want to be quote-retweeted because you don’t want public engagement
  • 🚩 You don’t want to sign a contract because you plan to break your agreement
  • 🚩 You don’t check your email because you don’t take your community seriously

“But none of those red flags are the reason I’m doing this!”

Of course! That might be totally true. You might have very legitimate reasons for why you don’t want to do those things or others.

That’s not what people perceive.

If a group doesn’t know who you are, then why should they trust that your reasons for making those decisions are anything other than those red flags?

Why should a brand chase you down to try and get your contact information when a dozen other live streamers make theirs available in their bio? Why should a company hire you to do work if you aren’t willing to sign a contract for the job? Why should I approve your server for being listed as a trustworthy community on if you show that you don’t care about responding to or reading emails, which is what parents, players, or legal organizations (like law enforcement) might use to contact you?

No one knows your reasons for making these decisions, and they can’t be expected to when “common sense” and common behaviors show that the red flags are real.

If you want people and groups and companies to trust you, then you need to do the bare minimum to meet the threshold of overcoming those red flags. If you don’t want to do those things, then by all means you can absolutely go right ahead and do that. There are so many people in the world that you will no doubt meet people who don’t care about those things! You have that choice 100%.

But, at the end of the day, that’s your decision and you have to live with the effects of that decision. If you want to forge your own path with your own rules, don’t complain when things don’t go your way. If you can’t get brand sponsors for your live streams, that’s on you, not the brands, and no amount of complaining on social media is going to make that easier for you.

Stop complaining that there are consequences for your decisions. Stop being annoying.

At the end of the day, this doesn’t really bother me much. I’m at the point where if people don’t do the bare minimum of meeting common practices, then I just move on to the next person. And if people want to complain on social media because they don’t want to do those things, then I mute and clean my timeline. My boundaries are secure and I’ve got a good mental headspace going.

Take this as friendly passing advice from someone who sees way too many talented people screw themselves over from a good thing.

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