The Dilemma of Trust

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

The Dilemma of Trust

A short piece on how to build trust.


by Rick Maurer

If you want to get your ideas across, trust isn’t optional. It is essential. But here’s the dilemma. Trust is difficult to build and easy to destroy. You probably know the usual suspects – failing to keep commitments, lying, working behind people’s backs – these all destroy trust. But you may not know that there are some common everyday things that can kill people’s confidence in you.

  • We Believe Our Idea is Brilliant. In fact, we may be so pleased with our idea, that we think that’s all it takes. In those moments, we forget the relationship. We forget that the other person may have ideas of her own. Or we fail to note that our idea might be threatening. Perhaps this time-saving device could result in people losing their jobs. Perhaps accepting a job offer across the country will rip our children out of school and take them away from the only friends they’ve ever known.
  • We Believe That Selling is Key. If people resist our ideas, all we need to do is explain it better. We talk and talk and talk until they cry “uncle” and give in. We want people to say, “I’m so glad you explained your idea eighteen times. I finally got it. Once again, you’ve outdone yourself.” Doesn’t happen.

Our own excitement – whether at work or home – actually undermines trust. The next time we come up with an idea, they think, “Oh no, here he comes again. What is it this time?”

The antidote is to shift our focus. Instead of just paying attention to our idea, give equal weight to your relationship with the other person. Consider what the world looks like through their eyes. Actually listen, not to offer a rebuttal, but to be influenced by their goals, fears, and ideas.

© 2009 Rick Maurer. Rick uses his Change without Migraine™ to advise organizations on how to lead change effectively. He is author of many books including Beyond the Wall of Resistance. Recently, he created the Change Management Open Source Project, a free resource for people interested in change in organizations.