Trust is the most misunderstood word at work, resulting in perceptions of broken promises and trampled expectations. The new workplace currency of trust is centered on authentic trust, which comes from authentic people. Only when there is a commitment to the relationship is authentic trust built. When mutual commitments are delivered without concern for personal advantage or attempted manipulation or control, trust grows.
Consider these misunderstood truths about authentic trust - the kind of trust that builds workplaces and ignites engagement:
1. Non-authentic, basic trust can be unrealistic, naïve, foolish, or blind. Yet, many people still operate at work with this simple kind of trust most of us started with as babies.
2. Mistrust is not the opposite of trust. Control is. Notice where there is a lack of authentic trust and you’ll see controlling people.
3. There is always risk when giving trust. Authentic trust is an action developed through critical thought and experience. It doesn’t deny the past or ignore the possibility of future trust broken, either intentional or unintentional.
4. Trust is a process. Authentic trust is not a screensaver waiting in the background until it’s needed. Authentic trust is a learned emotional skill. It involves an ongoing process of relationship building, where the relationship is more important than the outcome.
5. Trust is about people not things. People confuse trust with “dependable” or “reliable.” Authentic trust requires commitments made and commitments honored. It necessitates decision, action, and response.
6. Trust is conditional. There are limits and conditions with authentic trust. When we say we trust someone, there is a presumed statement of conditionality. I may trust my mechanic to work on my car, but I don’t trust him to do my root canal.
7. To get trust you must give it first. You may be loveable, but that won’t get you love - loving will. As a relationship process, authentic trust is no different. Contrary to popular belief, trust is not earned. You start trust by giving trust.
Authentic trust, like love, is cultivated, grown, and nurtured. We make it by what we do and how we do it. We make it by what we say and how we say it. We make it by showing up and being authentic. We make it by giving it away.
Troubling trends, discouraging statistics, sound bites and attention grabbing headlines heralding distrust affect our collective psyche, diminish our sense of well-being, and reinforce the impression that everyone from teachers to businesses to politicians are not worthy of our trust. But let’s be honest about the challenge. Trust is not just about corporate or political America, it’s also about us in everyday America.
Consider these representative examples:
In a survey for CNNMoney.com 71 percent of participants admitted to lying about money or keeping money secrets
In a Reader’s Digest Survey, 63 percent of employees admitted calling out sick when they weren’t
In a CareerBuilder.com survey, employers reported nearly half of the resumes received contained falsehoods
Reduced trust impacts relationships, bottom-lines, innovative solutions, cooperative endeavors, and well-being. You and I aren’t going to rebuild that broken trust, but that shouldn’t stop us from replenishing the trust deficits in own businesses, work groups, and relationships.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Start with self-trust. It’s hard to trust others if you don’t trust yourself. Lack of self-trust is a precursor to distrusting others. Can you trust your motives, intentions, impulses and judgment? The most important relationship you have is with yourself.
Keep perspective. You can find examples of untrustworthy people, broken promises, and trust-busting actions, but perspective helps. Don’t extrapolate what you read or hear to your workplace or community.
Check the mirror. When we denounce looters, but help ourselves, to our employers supplies we share in the accountability of dishonesty. But when our word or our handshake is as good as a contract with those we give it to, we share in the benefits of replenished trust.
Build a pocket of excellence. People work for people, not for companies. No one needs permission to create his or her own pocket of excellence founded on trusting relationships.
You may not be able to change your boss’s behavior or the bosses above her, but you can influence the environment of those you work with and those who work for you.
Nan S. Russell, award winning speaker and author of Trust: The New Workplace Currency. She writes an insight column called “Winning at Working,” and a life reflections column called “In the Scheme of Things.” She also blogs for PsychologyToday.com. Contact www.nanrussell.com.