Trust is defined as an “absolute certainty in the trustworthiness of self or another ” Trust and believability are synonymous. We need both together, neither alone will do. What few people realise is that trust and believability are processed in the pre-conscious areas of the brain – in particular the limbic area – which serves as a gateway to cognition. The limbic system processes information 80 000 times faster than the conscious cerebral cortex. The conscious mind can process only 126 bits of info per second and only 40 bits of human speech per second, but our senses can receive 10 million bits of input per second. The limbic area gives us an instantaneous reading on believability and trustworthiness.
Prof. Albert Mehrabian of UCLA has indicated that 93% of judgement depends on the voice tone and body language and that the voice with its auditory resonance and intonation counts for as much as 84% of emotional influence.
Trust is an emotional strength that begins with the feeling of self-worth and purpose. When we trust ourselves and can extend this trust to others and receive it in return it becomes a conductor for positivity. As Michael Hammer business strategist says “The overheads of distrusting or wary relationships are enormous”, “ technique and technology are important. But adding trust is the issue of the decade” – Tom Peters. Charles Handy asks us “How do you manage people whom you do not see and whom you cannot control or fire – because they may not be your employees?” “By trusting them”
When we reach out to strangers and acknowledge them in some way without expecting anything in return, this trust in most cases will pay off in one way or another. Trust is something Bill Gates does to his employees. “If you trust yourself and those around you, so much that you give away 70% of what you own, it can only translate into profit.
Start with the following trust questionnaire which you and your team members should complete honestly
Place a (+) if the person meets the criteria and a (-) if the person does not
- I have a good idea how my team member will act; he/she is consistent
- I believe my team member is dependable; he/she keeps agreements, commitments and promises
- I feel my team member would not intentionally hurt me in any way; he/she demonstrates caring for others
- I have faith that my team member will act in my best interest even if I am not present; we share common values and goals
- I know my team members can do the work we have identified; he/she does high quality work
- I think my team member’s words are true’ he/she is honest
- I think my team member’s words are authentic; he/she says what he/she means.
- I know my team member will admit mistakes and fears he/she is open
- I can share my crazy ideas and deep feelings with my team member; he/she is non-judgmental
- I am comfortable with the investment (social, emotional, psychological, etc.) I have made in this relationship; my team member respects the relationship
- I am not afraid of uncertainty in the future; my team member and I can figure out most anything
- I don’t mind asking my team member for help in understanding a new process, a new equation etc; he/she is a good coach
- I openly receive feedback from my team member; his/her feedback is direct, specific and non-punishing
- I am willing to suspend my position to understand my team member’s point of view; he/she can make a valuable contribution
- I know my team member suspends his/her position to understand me; he/she believes I can make a valuable contribution
- I can freely disagree with my team member; he/she is equally committed to uncovering the truth and the best solution
- I listen to criticism from my team member; he/she accepts me as I am and does not demand that I play a particular role
- I feel confirmed by my team member; he/she accepts me as I am and does not demand that I play a particular role
- I enjoy a free-flowing dialogue with my team member; we blend out thought well together for better understanding
- I have fun with my team member he/she shares a common spirit
- My fellow team member has told me that I can trust him/her
- Other (please describe your criteria)
What did you learn from the questionnaire? It is obvious that there are many dimensions to building and sustaining trust. And they all matter. When people don’t trust each other, they ignore feelings and alter facts and ideas that they anticipate may increase their vulnerability for misunderstandings and erroneous assumptions to increase dramatically. There is evidence to suggest that business trust depends first and foremost on making emotional contact with the listener.
Getting past broken trust
We need to consciously accept that broken trust is as much a part of shaping lasting trust as doubt is a part of believing. The point is to keep moving, extending trust to others in a new direction and seeking trust in return. Trust and believability must be built and sustained through consistently demonstrating them in our choices and actions. Getting past broken trust requires an aspect of emotional intelligence as getting past nervousness when talking to strangers, as it is in embracing differences and disagreements with openness instead of rigidity. Perceive them as sources of possible connections and ideas that may prove constructive and valuable.
On an emotional level there is nothing partial or conditional about trust. When you finish this self evaluation put a star beside the names of those people inside the circle who work with you. How might you benefit if more people from your team or organisation were inside this trust radius? Ask yourself if you are one of the people you trust? If not, why not? How can I increase my trustworthiness in their eyes? Ask why some people have been excluded from the circle and why. Only when you know and can respond to such honest insights, is there a chance to grow your ability to trust and with it your trust radius.
Begin by trusting yourself more and others in a situation where little harm can occur and then expand it to a wider circle of trust.
How to build trust
- Sit down while you are interacting with other people
- Don’t make any time-urgent movements such as watch watching that indicate you are concerned about time.
Think about how you feel when you are trying to say something to someone who is poised to flee? When you state how much time you have, say it in a tone of voice that shows you’re delighted to have two minutes. Be certain to eliminate the words ONLY. Complete the statement by saying, if you want more time, just say so and we’ll make time. Researchers find that people don’t usually take up the offer and are more time-effective in the brief concentrated time you give them. Offering time is an emotional perception that’s crucial for good listening. Trustworthiness translates into letting others know one’s values and principles, intentions and feelings and acting in ways that are consistent with them. Trustworthy individuals are forthright about their own mistakes and confront others about their lapses. A deficit in this ability operates as a career derailer.