Trust. How often do we hear that word? Is it me or does everyone say trust is a critical constituent of any successful relationship – be it corporate or personal – and yet nobody seems to have it? I was web surfing recently looking for companies in my own industry that published their values on their websites. I managed to find more than 20 that did, but only 10% mentioned trust as one of their corporate values. And yet The Great Place to Work® Institute believe trust-based relationships are at the heart of every great workplace.
You can find the definition of the word trust in any dictionary, but what are the benefits and dividends of trust and the taxes or price you pay for mistrust? What is trust on a practical level and how do we build it? Stephen Covey describes trust at the most simplistic level as confidence and distrust as suspicion. A couple of years ago I did a survey on trust between companies in my own industry. Everyone, and I mean every last person of the 60 responders, found it very difficult to define the word trust. People did characterize some of the related elements of trust: give trust and you will receive it back; allows both parties to make mistakes; an investment for the future by both parties; and a platform or foundation that allows challenges and provides a route to find solutions together. The most frequent words people mentioned in relation to trust were: transparency; openness; sharing; belief and confidence in a person/group; truth and honesty.
This all got me thinking back to times in my life where I’ve been micromanaged – by my own manager or even a client – or put in situations where lack of trust, suspicion and negativity was palpable from a friend or family member. The negative effect on my behaviour was huge – there was a massive reduction in my energy levels, a total lack of engagement and commitment, zero enthusiasm and creativity and proactivity was a thing of the past. Sometimes I really crashed and burned.
Then I started to consider those situations where trust has been extended to me by my beloved husband – who trusts that I’ll be successful at whatever I choose to do – and in other work situations where both mentors and managers have trusted me in a variety of situations. As I think back to those times, looking through my own eyes, hearing what I heard and feeling the feelings I felt, I can immediately remember the amazing difference in my own energy level as it shot through the roof, the feeling of motivation, the excitement, the feeling of inspiration and creativity and the power it all generated within me. I know I discovered potential I hadn’t dreamed possible and it didn’t just rekindle my inner spirit, it stoked it into a roaring fire. That fire drove my desire to show it was worth extending trust to me, and to repay it by extending trust to that person. I’m certainly a good example of how trust brings out the very best in someone and I believe I’m not unusual.
What’s obvious is you need to put yourself out there to trust – “Trust is established through action…….” (Henry M Paulsen) – it’s an active choice on your part. You are taking a risk, but the potential rewards, benefits and dividends, be they, for example, greater speed and reduced cost in a work situation, or greater satisfaction and joy in your personal relationships, far outweigh any risks.
Think back to when you were a child or even a baby and how trusting you were. As we age many of us become less trusting as a direct result of experience. The key when extending trust is to retain your ability to forgive (remember everyone is doing the best they can with the resources they have available – both internally and externally) and to balance your past experience and analysis of the situation, with a propensity and conscious desire to extend trust. Intelligently extending trust to those around you maximizes the dividends, increases your chances of successfully achieving your goals and minimizes the risks. And the more you trust others, the more you’ll be trusted in return.
As Christopher Reeve said “Either you decide to stay in the shallow end of the pool, or you go out in the ocean….”
© Jacqui Gatehouse and NLP THIRTEEN, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jacqui Gatehouse and NLP THIRTEEN with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.