I’m painfully aware of the importance of trust, through personal experiences, and through observation of others struggling with the issue. I believe trust is basic for any productive, and meaningful relationship. Stephen Covey in his book Principle-Centered Leadership writes, “Trust-or lack of it-is at the root of success or failure in relationships and in the bottom-line results of business, industry, education, and government.”
Trust has been written about in great detail, and yet it’s not easy to define. It’s a sense about someone that affects how we act, what we say, and how we say it. Trust is a mix of character, competence, integrity, and values. Trust is elusive. It can take years to build, yet can be gone in an instant by a comment, or an action.
Trust issues begin with a few isolated incidents that can then affect everyone in the work group. For example, a few years ago I tried to work out an agreement on a project with another individual. Our discussions normally left issues unresolved. I “assumed” we would eventually get closure on these issues. My assumption was wrong, and trust was destroyed. Why? The individual said one thing but did another. Trust was destroyed.
During my stay in Indianapolis a new manager (who turned out to be my favorite) was assigned to head up the HR department. Initially he did not like me or trust me, but due to my words matching my actions within a short period of time his behavior changed toward me, and trust was established.
Examples of behaviors associated with destroying trust:
1 Assuming someone is going to respond in a negative way and interacting consciously or unconsciously with that person in a way that sows mistrust.
2 Making excuses; not accepting responsibilities.
3 Withholding information.
4 Not keeping confidences.
5 Talking about someone behind their back.
6 Saying one thing, and doing another.
7 Speaking in half-truths; not addressing an issue head-on.
8 Breaking commitments.