I’ve been thinking about trust a lot lately. Perhaps because I am seeing so many instances where trust is lacking, or certainly could be improved upon. And so it makes me ask these questions – “Who do you trust?” and “Why do you trust them?”.
This is not going to a religious post, but I can’t help but think about the Biblical quote, “Fear is useless. Trust is what is needed.” And yet, I know that fear has its place in keeping us alive. In fact, I once heard an Apollo astronaut talk about the power of fear in keeping him alive in space. So it comes down to figuring out the situations when we should trust, who it is we will trust, and then perhaps the underlying “why.”
As I mentioned, I have experienced instances of questioned trust lately. One that was a real pain in the butt was that I recently had to travel with a temporary Georgia driver’s license. This is a printed paper with my photo, address, license number and a complex barcode filled with information. TSA did not accept this as proof of who I am, so I had to go through additional security screening so that they could trust me to be safe to fly.
This was a much better experience than I had with Enterprise Car Rental, which refused to let me pick up the car I had reserved. Despite the fact that I have been in their preferred club since 2008, had trusted them for all of my car rentals since then, had a reservation, had the credit card with me that was on file in their system, had my enterprise club card, and had actually rented a car on the same temporary license the day before, they said no dice, no exceptions, no way – we do not trust you to rent a car from us.
Conversely, I made a phone call to Hertz Car Rental – who I had not rented a car from since the late ‘90s – and they verified me, accepted my credit card and let me drive off with a $20,000+ car. So why does a company that should know me NOT trust me, and a company that barely knows me, trust me completely? Who do you think I will trust for rental cars and spend my money with going forward?
More Travel Trust
Do you ever think about the level of trust we place in other drivers on the highway? When I think about it, it is quite scary. We trust that complete strangers will stop at red lights, stay in their lanes, yield appropriately in traffic circles, and change lanes around us safely. It’s great when everyone does what they’re supposed to do. But when any of those trusts are violated, man is it scary!
I will not express sides here regarding the current presidential election, but what an amazing exercise in trust! Do we have confidence in our fellow voters to choose the right candidate? Do we trust the election system to accurately record the votes of our fellow Americans and ourselves? One presidential candidate has already said that he does not trust the election system, and the only way he could lose is if there is cheating involved. That’s a lot of not trusting!
**** Post election update: Trust can be a scary thing!
Carrying of Guns / Carrying of Sex Toys
I recently read in the news that students at the University of Texas, Austin, are allowed to carry guns on campus. Frankly, that scares the hell out of me – and I would have a hard time trusting strangers carrying guns around me. (And I grew up around a lot of guns.) Some people opposed to the carrying of guns on campus are now openly carry sex toys with them. For whatever reason, I think I would have more trust in the sex toy carriers than the gun carriers. Why?
Trusting Professionals and Advisors
I generally trust professionals and those I hire for advice. But I also try to evaluate their advice or service on an ongoing basis and determine if I should continue to trust them. Some time ago, a dentist that I had gone to many times suddenly seemed like he had forgotten that everyone calls me “Chuck” and started addressing me by my proper name “Carl.” I gently reminded him that I preferred “Chuck” and he said he was writing it down in the file, but several more times in the same visit and later visits he reverted to calling me “Carl” – as if he didn’t really know me. I lost my trust in him and found another dentist, because I sensed that he really didn’t know me.
Bitcoin, Block Chain & Networks of Trust
I’ve recently started to look at Bitcoin, how the underlying block chain verification system works to create a network of trusted “facts” to verify accounts – and how this network of trust enables something that may only be possible with new technology facilitating trust. Is it better than established financial systems? Is this network of trust better than business barter from days of old, or when my parents had a business and they let people take their repaired car on their word that they would return to pay their bill over time? I don’t know.
Social Networking and Trust
I’ve spent a good deal of time in my life doing social networking. I started with CB radio in the 1970s when I coolly adopted the handle of “Moonshadow” and also used the family business official license of KCC4033. People trusted each other for information on things like road conditions, speed traps, and people in need of assistance.
Move forward to CompuServe, Prodigy and AOL, and we experienced the expanding power of networks. Now we have Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and more. We’ve added layers of capability to building trust relationships online. Some of us have powerful networks that help us tap into new and exciting trust relationships whenever we need them. New services like Intronet promise to improve the quality of our social networking relationships.
Trust on Teams
When we work on others, we need to be able to trust our teammates to perform at their best. I’ve played on team sports and have been part of many high-performing work teams. I know how much I have counted on my teammates, and what a great feeling it is when we are all performing well together. And I know how bad it feels when teams break down and don’t deliver as we had hoped.
I have never served in the military, but I have friends who have been part of extremely high performing teams where everyone’s life has depended on trusting each other. That’s the level of trust we should all aspire to. How do we build trust within our teams?
Building Interpersonal Trust
One approach I use to help build trust in teams is a system called Teamability. Each team member logs in online and responds to a series of scenarios. The online tool then produces a Teamability report for each team member. Team members can share their Teamability information with each other, which offers insights into preferred or best roles on a team for each member. It also helps each team member understand their and others’ teaming characteristics and how to respect other members of the team. I use this with teams I work with and find it is powerful system to help build trust.
Nothing Succeeds Like Success
Of course, we all have the opportunity to build our trust in others and their trust in us over time by repeatedly demonstrating trustworthiness. We do this through our words and actions, and the series of successful trusting experiences we offer each other. Building trust by proving time and time again that we are worthy of trust is essential for our personal and professional relationships to thrive.
How Do You Develop Trust?
As I continue to ponder trust in our society today, I sure would like to hear your perspectives on trust. Are you trusting? Do others see you as trustworthy? How do you develop trust in others? How is trust rebuilt when it fails? I’d love to hear from you. And if there’s anything I can help you with, give me a call, and I will do my best to demonstrate that you can trust me to help.