Trust building

Creation of Adam

The Creation of Adam, by Michelangelo.
Courtesy Principium Unitatis.

We seldom pay too much attention to trust. It seems to be a dormant issue most of the time.

Yet, we fail to realize that “low morale” within an organization is often a direct consequence of a dysfunctional lack of trust among its own, which can have a devastating effect on any group of people.

On the other side of the coin, trust has the power to release the full potential of an organization, because it nurtures a creative environment. In an open environment, its members are prone to contribute enthusiastically and to discover new opportunities.

What is trust?
Trust is the act of believing that someone, including oneself, can deliver on a commitment, or kind of commitment.

Human beings are quite complex. We can clearly realize our own complexity in a simple bike ride. We may be chatting along, unaware of the many activities going on in our background. Trust is one of them.

We only seem to realize the importance of trust in the presence of betrayal.

Trust is vital. It’s almost impossible to live without trusting one another. When we fly, we not only trust the pilot and mechanics, but also, the air controllers, and the thousands who manufactured the millions of parts in an airplane. Our denial relegates to the furthest corners of our mind the threat of a tire, screw or nut failure, or a pilot with a hangover.

In the simple act of walking, in every step we take, we trust ourselves to place our feet in the right place, at the right time. Why aren’t we overly concerned with tripping and falling, and bruising ourselves?

If so many things can go wrong, why do we trust? Or, why aren’t we overly paranoid in our everyday behavior?

Studies show that soon after we are born we develop a high level of trust. The pleasure of being fed morphs into the pleasure of being with the person doing the feeding. Infants learn to bask in the warm fuzzy glow of oxytocin, a hormone that facilitates trust and attachment.

In our search to find ways of being, or behaviors, that will benefit us, let’s look at the activity of trust from two points of view: self trust and trust in our relationships.

Self trust.
Self trust, is the starting point of our inner development. If we have confidence in ourselves, we can take on bold endeavors. If not, we are doomed to watch others do so.

We must first recognize that we cannot see ourselves as being independent. We are not the same person when we are in the presence of our boss, our wife, children or beer buddies. We are not the same at church, at a party, at the beach or in classes. We are not the same on April 15, on our birthday, on Mondays, on Fridays, or during the Christmas season. We are not the same if we had a bad childhood or were loved, went to war or not, expect good things for the future or not.

How we perceive ourselves differs, or our mood changes. Or, we are different under differing circumstances.

Sleeping Buddha

Sleeping Buddha © Sandra Caldwell

So, with the understanding that we are permanently empathizing with others, or that a reference to the self is much like drawing lines in the sand, I will attempt to set a North to our compass.

Some of you may be wondering why I’m digging so deep into the self. I have to, to walk in the wrong direction will always bring about a sense of confusion and consequently a loss of self trust.

In my own non-guru personal view, we should strive to be honest, hard working, courageous and compassionate. At the same time, these four virtues should be balanced with our obligation to be happy, with sensible doses of compassion to forgive ourselves.

With the direction of our journey firmly established, we can add a few pointers along the way:

  • Push your comfort zone boundaries
  • Preferably when it’s not required of you, this way you will feel less pressure and it will help you build self confidence. Wear non matching socks, ask for a salary raise, invite a prospect client to lunch.

  • Make new friends
  • Take some dancing or painting classes. Conversations with friends have a way of lifting our spirits.

  • Find out what you’re good at, and follow your passion
  • It’s hard to beat this one. You will feel much stronger once you start doing what you like, because you will stop sapping energy away.

  • Get off your ass and do some exercise
  • Staying in shape not only helps your self-esteem, it’s good for your health, makes it easier to take the stress, and makes you more attractive.

  • Read, read and read some more
  • No matter what you read, it will always make you grow. You will know more about life, and you will be more interesting to others.

Trust in our relationships.
Trust in our relationships, on the other hand, is a two way street:

  • First, our trust allows those that surround us to grow
  • When we give our son the car keys for the first time, we send him a clear message that we trust him, that we feel that he has matured enough to deserve a greater responsibility. Soon, the car will probably need some body repair. Beginners make mistakes, it’s expected of them.

    It’s also wise to allow the experienced to make mistakes too. To aim high, people must explore or try different alternatives. In order to do so, they must feel they have the freedom to fail. Fear to fail, or any fear for that matter, stunts creation or the advancement of any endeavor.

  • Second, we get others to trust in ourselves by making them promises, and delivering on those commitments
  • Of course, we start by getting them to know us. The first impression and how we carry ourselves in a casual chit-chat are the basis for a quick assessment of our entire persona. Are we meeting their basic parameters of proper social interaction? Or, are we behaving ourselves in a bizarre way? Are we likeable? Are we amiable?

    It’s amazing to realize that people routinely judge others in the blink of an eye, although they may well be terribly mistaken in their appreciation, as Malcolm Gladwell so eloquently presents in his book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.

    • Are we attractive?
    • People follow attractive people. It’s also in our genes. It’s almost always better to side with the popular and majority vote, the winners.

    • Are we any fun?
    • Did we tell any new jokes? Did we tell a good story of something we heard on the radio? People prefer to be entertained, as a matter of fact, they pay to be entertained.

    • Do we have a tribe in common?
    • Members have privileges. It’s in our genes to side with any member of our tribe. It simplifies the complex world we live in. Palestinians view suicide bombers as martyrs of their cause.

    • How solid is our reputation in our community?
    • Do we have clients that will endorse us for past good deeds? Do we have a minor league good coaching standing? Do we participate as guest speakers in our community’s conferences? We all tend to look up to podium bearers.

And, I’ll leave it at that. I have already extended this post too much, and I shouldn’t worry myself too much about getting it perfect. if not, it becomes a burden. I learned this much a short while ago at Penelope Trunk’s blog.

If you want to dig deeper into the subject, I highly suggest that you also read Baby steps to Trust Building.

2 Comments to “Trust building”

  1. […] In my I ← Trust building […]

  2. […] find that trust build­ing is a behav­ior that we have all been busy at since birth. We’ve always inter­acted with […]


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