Trust, like oil in an engine, is required to keep the parts from seizing up and everything running smoothly.
Consider a time in your life when everything lined up. Were you on a team where you counted on others and they counted on you? From work teams to sports teams, from family interactions to serving on committees, as our confidence in one another increases, things get easier – and more fun. When we trust our ideas will be well received, we’re more generous. We feel good when the “count on me” factor is high and our efforts align to achieve a common goal. In a high trust environment, we’re better together.
“Count on me” experiences also happen when we’re alone. From gardening to computers, from working out to artistic expression consistently applying ourselves builds trust and motivates us to continue. Our confidence grows. We often experience the “magic” of being “in the flow.” When everything lines up, as an individual, team or enterprise, trust is high and rising. I’ll leave it to you to answer, “Which comes first: trust or everything lining up?”
At one time or another you and I have experienced low trust environments where it seems as if nothing lines up. We check and double check to make sure things are done right. We get frustrated. Talk frequently turns to blame and what did or didn’t happen. We have a tendency to hold back and to protect. Progress nearly grinds to a stop as we seek to avoid criticism – whether from others or from ourselves. Creativity and innovation nearly disappear.
This invisible factor of trust is so powerful that Stephen Covey subtitled his classic book, The Speed of Trust - The One Thing That Changes Everything. High trust accelerates results, increases positive expectancy and impacts our lives in both social and business settings.
Fortunately, trust can be learned, taught and practiced. Building trust can take months or even years; though it can be lost in an instant. Fortunately, we can re-build trust. It’s advisable not to assume trust and to remember that trust building is a practice where “going slow” often means “going fast.”
Brene’ Brown, speaker, researcher and author of Daring Greatly, tells the story about her third grade daughter who was crushed after trusting a friend with a secret that “everyone in school” knew by lunch. She declared, “I’m never going to trust anyone with my secrets again.” As a fifth generation Texan with the motto of “lock and load”, Brown says she had to fight the tendency to tell her daughter, “that’s right.” Instead she asked, “Have you ever shared a secret with a friend and it turned out well?” Of course, the answer was “Yes.” Brown helped her daughter explore the differences between the experiences that turned out well and those that didn’t. She reminded her daughter about the “Marble Jar.”
One of her daughter’s teachers had a large jar in the classroom. She placed a marble in the jar when someone added to the class experience and removed a marble when someone distracted from the class experience. When the jar filled with marbles, the teacher celebrated the class’s progress and good behavior. Brown told her daughter, “There are ‘Marble Jar Friends’.” These are the friends who earn your trust over time – and the friends you share your secrets with.
Though this story is about a third grader, it’s your story and it’s my story. Adults also say, “I’ll never – fill in the blank – “hire anyone again” “marry again” “do business with ______ again.” When we feel betrayed, it’s common to make such a declaration – whether aloud or to ourselves. It’s more skillful to adopt the idea of “Marble Jar Friends” and to practice being that person as well. Remember, trust can be learned, taught and practiced. Here are some specific behaviors that build trust:
There are certainly more practices. I’d love to hear from YOU! Please leave your comments below.