Trust Week 1: Getting smart about trust

Paul Andrew, ConnectLeadership.comSo this guy goes to an all day workshop on trust. And in the supportive environment of the workshop, he sees that it’s safe to trust. Through the activities of the day, he learns to open up to others, to be vulnerable. After a full and satisfying day, he leaves the workshop feeling great. A few minutes later, he’s walking down the street when he happens upon 

a dog. Normally, the man would have avoided such a creature, but feeling emboldened by the workshop, he decides to trust. He approaches the dog to pet it.

Just as the man’s hand is about to make contact, the dog tenses, looks at him, and then lunges, biting the man’s hand. Shocked, the man shakes free of the dog and runs back to the workshop.

Upon finding the teacher he blurts out his story, and yells “I thought you said it was safe to trust!” To which the teacher pauses, considers the situation, and replies, “Yes, but nobody told the dog.”

To me, this joke presents a central challenge regarding trust: while the potential benefits are great, there are also real risks. And if you don’t manage the risks well, it’s easy to get “bitten”, feel jaded, and give up on trust.

There is an alternative. If you can get smart about when to build trust, and get good at how to build it, you can enjoy the benefits while reducing the risks.

This week we’ll cover two useful tools for assessing situations, so that you can get smart about when to trust:

  • a surprisingly easy way to lay the groundwork for trust
  • the important (but uncomfortable) question to ask before trusting

And in a future week, we’ll cover tools for building trust, once you’ve determined that the situation calls for it. These include:

  • two effective ways to build trust through successful interactions
  • how “important conversations” are a powerful (and underused) tool for building trust

Thought question: In your current job, what role does trust play in getting things done?

Paul Konasewich, connectleadership.com

© 2007 Paul Konasewich

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