Trust – Why do we get it so wrong so often?


I firmly believe that most people do not set out to be mistrusting. For the most part, we have the desire and intention to be trusting. We know how important it is to us, and we know things work better with it. So, what is it that messes things up somewhere between our intention and our action?

The importance of deadlines

Picture this: you’ve got a major deliverable due tomorrow morning, you’ve got one vital piece you are waiting on from someone from another team. They have been hard to get hold of the whole project. You can’t reach them on the phone. You check instant messenger, it says they are online and not in a meeting. Why aren’t they picking up? What scenario does your mind go to in this situation? If you are anything like me, it goes something like this “bloody <insert name/or team>, they are always late, they never realize the importance of my deadlines, in fact, I think they deliberately try to make it difficult for me”. Boom, trust eroded.  Before we know it, we’ve turned into a micro managing stalker, calling them every minute.

Common challenges ahead

Now, what contributed to the erosion of trust in this instance? Stress over tight deadlines, lack of communication, misaligned expectations and a personal fear of failure, to name a few. This is a fairly ordinary scenario, with common challenges that we face in today’s business setting.  Tight deadlines, fast paced business timelines and more complex, matrixed contributors to our outcomes.  It’s no wonder therefore, that there is a gap between our intentions and our actions when it comes to trust.

Everybody’s stuck in the same loop

We value being in control. We value clarity. We value the praise of a job well done. We fear letting people down and the wrath of our managers (who, incidentally are also stuck in the same loop!). This too often leads us to micro manage outcomes, to use fear as a motivator to get people to deliver on time, to share our stress and in turn stress out others. All because, we don’t catch ourselves between the intention to be trusting, and the reactions and actions we take under pressure.

Becoming more aware

The antidote to all this, is becoming more aware. More aware of setting an intention to be trusting, more aware of our actions and reactions and the impacts of those. Try bringing some awareness to your interactions and their impact on trust. Next article, we will explore how to bring some of that awareness and intentionality into your day to day and some practical tips to help you become more consciously trusting. As a reformed stressor and control freak, I can tell you it feels great. Trust me!

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