A short ditty of wisdom that befell me through the school of hard knocks. Trust between persons is actually established based on what you already know about each other. Many times in our lives, we say to a friend or coworker, “I do not trust her!” How many times have we said or heard, “I am just not sure about old Bob… I just do not trust him.”
In the world of being a professional problem solver, I saw a trend in the breaches of trust between folks. What I noticed is that you actually can trust folks… to do what you have already seen them do. This one change in perspective proves to be extremely powerful, and it can be taught and pushed down in your company, team, and even at home.
If I have a man philander and cheat on his wife on business trips, then in this wiser model, I would not say “I do not trust that person.” I would say, ‘Well I trust him to be a wild philanderer and cheat on his wife. If he cheats on her then he may cheat, period.” Now that may sound brutal, but it is fact-based, and in this example it is rooted in what I have seen. So you actually do trust this person. You trust him or her to do again what you have already seen him or her do. If a direct report has been reliable, but always comes down to the wire and almost misses deadlines, then you can trust that person to be that person. He or she may surprise you, and you can add that to the equation.
Sometimes we have the opportunity to work with extraordinary talent and we can hardly trust what we are seeing. Maybe we should! Just as we see and know some folks can be trusted to let us down, we see and know that some people will deliver and we can trust that they will. You choose to trust or not trust based on your experience with that person, or maybe even of someone that person reminds you. So the next time one of us says to the other, “I do not trust him…” We should kindly ask, “Well what have you seen him do?
This powerful yet simple truth is an arrow in the quiver of any leader. Start at the leadership table and make a new rule: Trust what we see and know. Make each other restate “I do not trust” into “I trust.” Trust is not some magical mysterious thing that befalls us.
Obviously, if you have no track record or history with someone, then you have no real personal measure of trust, yet. Maybe you can seek someone’s advice who knows the person, but when they say, ” I do not trust her…” now you have a better response that will get you more facts. That response should be, ” Well, do you know her? What have you seen her do? What do you trust she will do?”
This goes to the heart of another great truth, which is to build a culture of problem solving, instead of problem worshiping. We will pick that up soon.