Thursday, June 22, 2006

‘I trust you’

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, June 22, 2006

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
‘I trust you’

WHAT does “I trust you” mean? You know, you often tell that to your children, spouse, subordinates, peers, bosses, friends and others you relate with. What you are really saying is “Look guys, please spare me the worrying and do as you are expected to do.”

Saying “I trust you” really means making yourself believe that that person will do and encouraging that person to do what was said to be done. Trust is believing that words mean what they appear to mean. It is seeing action that is consistent with the verbal or coded or written message. It is doing what is promised to be done.

Trust is not simply making others believe that you’re something that you’re not or you’ll do something that you won’t. This is “con.” Trust is not believing anything that anyone says is automatically true. That’s being gullible.

In business, we express trust in many different ways, e.g., “walk the talk and talk the talk.” Trust here is carrying out the advertised “image” your organization presents to the public, internal and external. It carries with it a dollop of respect and confidence. For example, your customer buys your product because of the features and price that you attach to it. When the product is sold at a higher price or bogs down immediately after the warranty lapse, then trust is destroyed. Your customer could easily buy another brand of the same product. So trust is synonymous to branding. Let’s talk about branding in another time.

Trust seems to be an elusive concept to define. So when we talk about trust, we talk about themes, attitudes, behaviors and actions that build or undermine trust. When we talk about trust we also talk about issues that pertain to relationships, issues that are within or beyond our control, issues that only other people could address and issues which are beyond your team’s control and not likely to change. Building trust means focusing on issues that both parties can control and resolve.

My personal conclusion is that trust is a feeling, an emotion, an expression of confidence in and willingness to act on the basis of the words, actions and decision of another person. Elaine Biech, editor of The Pfeiffer Book of Successful Teambuilding Tools, asserts that trust includes the very important element of allowing oneself to be vulnerable, based on the assumption that the trusted person will provide protection. Employees, for example, willingly join an organization and do their job that they could not have done alone, trusting that their bosses would see them through successfully.

Where does trust come from? Why do we trust? Biech explains that trust has a three-part foundation. “The first is competence. We are all more likely to trust someone who demonstrates an ability to perform whatever task is at hand. We rely on the ability of the other person to do what he/she says he/she could do.” In work situations, trust is the basis for delegation. When bosses know their subordinates could do the job, they trust them to do bigger responsibilities and more complicated tasks; then leave them alone to do the job without checking up to make sure that the work is being done properly.

The second piece of foundation of trust is consistency. We are more all inclined to trust someone who demonstrates consistent behavior: telling the truth, demonstrating integrity in word and deed and honoring commitments. When someone is consistent, we say that we can count on or depend on him or her. We place faith in the statements or consistent people without independently verifying their actions. This level of behavior predictability is vital to trust.” We tend to trust others who are consistently correct and are consistently doing the right things.

The third basis for trust is care. We’ll discuss that lengthily next ish.

Moje, president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp., could be reached at

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