(Guest Author Richard Fagerlin for Real. Simple. Leadership)
Let’s address this difficult situation of people that will likely take advantage of you if you are willing to give trust. So let’s play the odds.
Even though trust is not safe it can still be a wise investment. The question is, do the rewards outweigh the risks?
Everyone will eventually disappoint you in small ways. (And guess what? You’ll disappoint them, too.) A few people may betray you outright. But consider for a moment how many people we’re really talking about. How many people, of all those in your life, are really going to take advantage of you if you offer trust before it is earned? Twenty percent? Ten? Two? I guess that, on average, the number is closer to two percent than it is to twenty. Yes, a few people may abuse your trust. But do you want to live and act for the two percent, or the ninety-eight percent?
Imagine a weights and measures scale. Put the risk of the two percent on one side, and the
benefit of a trusting, generous relationship with the ninety-eight percent on the other.
Which is heavier?
I know many of you are sitting there thinking of all the situations where giving unearned trust doesn’t make sense. Keep two things in mind:
First, I’m assuming the relationships in question are ones where you actually want to win, where you have a vested interest in the relationship being the best it can be, and where collaboration is critical. If that’s the case, let’s apply these ideas. If not, you don’t need to invest time or energy into building trust.
Second, I am not speaking to the extremes. If you have experienced a betrayal of trust amounting to psychological or physical abuse, address it appropriately. Ask a friend for help, get a counselor, talk to a mentor, or read one of the many great books out there that address healing and boundaries on a personal level.
But most of life should not be a crisis. I want to speak to the rest of the time, to normal person-to-person interactions.
If you are struggling with the idea of giving trust – consider the following 5 strategies:
- Assume the best and be willing to give the benefit of the doubt
You can assume that people have bad intentions or you can assume their intentions are good. The choice is yours and how you choose will determine the strength of your relationship.
- Stop worrying about what you are not getting and focus on what you are getting
If you focus only on what you are not getting from a relationship it will be easy to find times, places and situations where you are not getting what you want. This can be a great way to grow frustration and create dis-harmony. Focus on what you do get and work to expand that.
- Have eyes like mom
Everyone’s baby is the cutest. Nobody loves better than mom does. Start looking at people and seeing them as though their mom does. You won’t be able to send them to their room but you just might start seeing good that you didn’t before.
- Make it your priority
Simply focus on giving trust. If it is your priority to build trust and to have high trust relationships it has to be an area of focus for you every day.
- Create boundaries
Not all people should be trusted and for those that shouldn’t, you must create boundaries. It doesn’t mean that you can have a relationship with challenging people, but you must determine boundaries that are tight enough to protect you but loose enough to not create harm in your relationship (more on boundaries later).
Lead Well, Lead Often and LEAD STRONG!
Richard Fagerlin is the founder and president of Peak Solutions.
With over 20 years of leadership and organizational development experience, he is a sought-after speaker, consultant and facilitator. Richard travels internationally helping clients intentionally create a culture of high trust and to be on purpose with developing leaders at all levels of the organization. In 2015 & 2016 Richard was named one of the top 100 thought leaders on Trust in the world.
A Colorado native, Richard enjoys the beautiful Rocky Mountains with his wife and four boys. His favorite team is whichever one his four boys are currently playing on. He is active in his community while serving on the board of the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado and Mill City Church.
(Scott’s addition: Richard is also the author of a really good book, “Trustology: The art and science of leading high-trust teams”. It’s one of my personal favorites. Learn more at www.trustologybook.com.)
Twitter: @richardfagerlin • LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richardfagerlin