Let me start by saying, what I am writing is contrary to the teachings people have heard in their personal and professional life. It is something that impacts us 24/7 and is an underpinning of every facet of our lives. It may sound like I am exaggerating, but it truly is. What I am talking about is TRUST. I have a different perspective.
You have heard the statement – “trust is earned”. There have been numerous books that talk about earning trust and how important trust is – How to gain trust in others and what it takes to earn your trust. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that trust is crucial to any relationship – personal or professional. However, I think it is sad that we are being taught to take a negative perspective as a starting point. I have grown up with more of a positive attitude which leads me to the perspective that people are generally good and wake up in the morning, just as I do, wanting to be the best person they can be. I truly believe that it is a small percentage of the population that is out to undermine others or do “bad” things.
From a business perspective, if we all agree that having trust in an organization is our goal and distrust in an organization negatively impacts the overall performance, why would we start with the negative side of the equation? Distrust automatically drives a level of suspicion which in turn makes a relationship less effective. If we start a relationship with the perspective that “trust is earned” and not habitually given, we are automatically accepting a level of ineffectiveness until actions are taken to “earn” the trust. While many actions can be taken to speed up the level of trust in a relationship, as Stephen M. R. Covey outlined in his book “The Speed of Trust”, I am convinced that initiating a relationship with trust will minimize the time it takes to build trust even at warp speed. If you are willing to accept anything other than assuming trust from the outset, you are willing to accept a cost to the business for at least a period of time. While distrust may feel like a level of protection, it is more than likely destructive.
“The moment there is suspicion about a person’s motives, everything he does becomes tainted.”
The negative impacts to a business can be huge from paranoia to micromanagement and the establishment of bureaucratic processes. Additionally, when employees don’t believe there is a level of trust in their ability or intention, they will tend to be more apprehensive in taking action.
While I don’t believe that people will outwardly project this immediate distrust, it is an underlying trait that we are teaching people with the current – “trust is earned” – mantra.
There will be times when trust is broken and repair is needed. However, it is at this time that books providing actions to be taken to build trust can be utilized to save the relationship. My perspective is expecting trust as a base, we will be more productive overall and actually happier at the same time.
When I have shared my perspective with others, they generally ponder, but tend to agree with the premise and then begin to put it to use – for instance, why would you hire someone if you didn’t trust them? Maybe this means it is situational and there are levels of trust that can be given immediately while other situations require more verification (trust, but verify model). This may be true, but I‘d still rather start with the positive view on trusting others.
All I ask is that you try it and see how it changes your perspectives and effectiveness.