I fell down again the other day. I was crossing the street, didn’t see that the ramp had a curb and my rollator’s front wheels stuck. As my rollator fell over, so did I. I skinned my knuckles and banged my knee. I’m fine. I was thrilled I didn’t hit my head.
Two lovely people ran across the street to help me get up. I have no idea who these people are, or what they do. The gentleman was strong—big biceps! He helped me stand up and get the rollator back in my hands. The gentlewoman was solicitous: “Do you need anything, dear?”
Nope, I was fine once I got my feet underneath me.
That got me thinking about trust. I trusted them to help me stand up. They trusted me to be a reasonable human and not prey on their good Samaritan helpfulness.
We trust each other like this all the time. These people are part of our support systems, formal or informal.
Sometimes, we don’t trust others.
What creates the conditions for trust? I read Trust and Trust Building, a fascinating essay. In a sense, I trusted these people to be benevolent to me. I trusted their ability to help me stand up. They trusted me to stand, once they helped me up. They trusted me to not abuse our interaction.
We build trust—or try to—in our teams all the time. Have you considered how people might build trust in your organization?
- Once you deliver (and continue to deliver), you build trust
- Explaining the conditions under which you can succeed (or know when you might fail) builds trust. See my post What Creates Trust in Your Organization?
- Extending trust first earns you trust in return
What happens when someone breaks trust with you? (It happens.)
It depends on many things. How important was the result and what’s the context?
Maybe the two of you were experimenting and the experiment didn’t succeed. That’s not breaking trust—that’s early learning. However, if all you do is “learn early,” and not deliver, no one earns any trust.
If the trust break was over something personal, you might not be able to recreate the original relationship. Each person will need to earn trust from the other. Even then, the original trust might not be attainable.
Is it worth the effort to regain trust with this other person?
Note that I talked about the other person. You can’t develop trust in an inanimate object. You either trust it or not. The object is either deterministic or not. (You can represent a deterministic object with a finite state machine.) Yes, sometimes finite state machines break. However, otherwise they work the same way all the time. My car turns on the same way each time I turn it on. That’s what I mean by deterministic.
On the other hand, people are wonderfully not deterministic. People are capable of learning, of change, of doing something different, even under similar circumstances.
Once you know what you need to do, you can build trust if you desire, with people. You can extend the trust you build with one person to a team. Once teams build trust with each other, they can help the organization achieve great things. It all depends on trust.
My dear adaptable problem solvers, that is the question of the week: Who do you trust?