I was mulling today about my grandmother who is now in her early 90s. A few years ago, before her dementia sadly progressed so far as to make this issue redundant, she would constantly call me after a salesman had come to her door, asking me if she should switch to their product.
When I asked her why, the answer was always the same, "because the salesman told me it was cheaper". I always replied, "Grandma, you know what I do for a job, I promise I have made sure you are on the very cheapest possible tariff."
Yet, for her, the simple fact someone had told her it was cheaper meant they had to be telling the truth. She spoke of coming from a trusting world – my explaining this was just a commission-based seller using it as an opening line didn’t cut any mustard.
I hear similar tales repeated by many people about their parents as they delve further into old age.
Now, of course there is no universality here. There are many extremely savvy people out there far older than my grandmother. Yet, it certainly does seem, anecdotally at least, that there is a trend of our older generation being more trusting.
What I am interested to know is, is this an age thing or a generational thing?
Do we tend to become more trusting as we get older or is this about the ‘war generation’? This generation lived through a time when everyone in the country had to pull together and look after each other to enable them to survive, a better mannered time – is it because of this they have a greater belief that most people are honest and trustworthy? My suspicion is that it probably is.
That’s not to say that younger generations aren’t trusting, but in a different way. In general I am a great believer that most people are good.
If you ask somebody to do something for you they will generally do it well, even a stranger, without stealing your stuff or letting you down. I’ve written before of my joy at seeing the person ahead of me in an ATM queue chase after the person in front of them as they’d walked away with their card but left the cash dangling.
However, when it comes to business and the corporate world I believe we live in an adversarial consumer society. A company’s job is to make money, our job is to stop them. Companies will tweak every possible profit-making nipple and at the sales end of it, if that includes manipulating the facts and using sales techniques to create openings, then they will.
I’d love your thoughts – are the older generation usually more trusting? And if so, why do you think that is… (and to know your age too would be interesting in this).