So You Say, “I Do Not Trust That Guy”… Well, Do You Know Him?

Is trust a helpless state of incoming traffic? Or is trust a proactive set of already established experiences?

Trust between persons is actually established based on what you already know about each other.

Trust is a key tenant of a healthy leadership team. It be-riddles many super talented teams. Why? I suggest it is because we see trust as a passive thing that happens to us. I propose that this is a weak understanding of trust. 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.”

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?

In the world of leading teams, 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 seen a colleague go on business trips and cheat on his wife, 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 on me.” 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, again. Trust is not a thing we wait on like mystery. It is not a mystical force.

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.

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. 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?”

So, challenge each other in a senior leadership team to stop seeing things through the weak prism of “do not trust…”. Rather, speak in truths of the things we have already observed and trust. Trust is a power position of already gathered experience. So do that and teach that for a year and watch what happens!


Cheers!

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