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Fragile Trust

Trust is essential for healthy interpersonal relationships and productive interactions within organizations. Sadly and without exception, each of us has experienced a situation where trust was lost. Sometimes it’s due to intentional acts, sometimes unintentional. Often, after the fact in less extreme cases, it may be difficult to remember exactly “why” or “how” the trust eroded. One thing is sure: No matter the cause, great or small, once trust is lost it’s hard to regain.

Lost trust is a no-win situation. Perhaps the only positive is to remind the parties involved how fragile – and vital – trust is.

Without trust, nothing of importance or lasting value can be achieved. Without trust alignment and growth cannot occur. Without trust the mission will fail, the vision will fade, and the values will crumble. Without trust we empower and influence noone, nor does anyone empower or influence us.

Trust is the essential component enabling productive and successful work, happy families, supportive friendships, harmonious communities, mutually beneficial commerce and collaborative politics.

Sometimes we unintentionally cripple productivity and stalemate success because we unjustly or too quickly decide that someone is untrustworthy. We should realize that situations quite often are not what they seem on the surface; therefore, it is important to understand context and specifics. Then, if things don’t seem quite right, we should confront the issue thoughtfully and respectfully rather than jump to negative conclusions.

On the other hand, to earn trust we must seek to understand what others expect from us and attune our words and actions so as not to breach those expectations. In other words, we should empathetically “walk in the shoes” of others to best earn their trust and good faith.

If human beings could mature on both sides of the equation – bestowing trust and earning trust – no doubt the world would be transformed.

The lesson for us is to understand how fragile trust is and to do everything in our power to honor it. Our call is to respond with humility and respect, and to be fully committed to earning trust through our every word and action.

As leaders, we each should take inventory of our personal and business relationships. Are there any behaviors or actions that I am doing to undermine trust? Am I following through on my commitments? Do I truly care about others and seek ways to help and benefit them? If so, you will be known for your character and integrity – that’s the power of Values-based Living.


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