Without Trust, There is No Us

What a time it is to be alive! Amidst so much chaos created by the pandemic, political divisions and a continuing spotlight on the need to address racial justice and social inequities, there is also so much opportunity for healing, progress on social issues and transforming differences into progress. What will it take to get us there?

In addition to holding our feet to the fire and a willingness to own and accept responsibility for our individual and collective past, present and future actions and behaviours, we will need to build and rebuild trust. This will be no easy feat in some arenas.

In an interview a few weeks ago, Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo spoke about racial tensions in the city. He talked about the need to come together to act and basically said, “there is no us without trust.”

If there is no trust, there is no us. This is a fundamental and profound truth that applies in every scenario – community, organization, team, family, intimate relationship. There is no us without trust. It is hard to move forward without trust. It is difficult, maybe impossible, to heal without trust.

In our book, Building Trust and Relationship at the Speed of Change, in Chapter 1, we wrote the following:

“The dictionary treats trust as both a noun and a verb. As a noun, it uses words like reliance, confidence, care, hope, and the person or thing in which confidence is placed. As a verb, it centers on the act of trusting, placing confidence or to hope. For us, trust is a far broader and more nuanced personal connection or act. It is more a matter of the heart than the mind. It has many characteristics depending upon context. The trust we might place in the person we love is different than the trust we might place in a co-worker or neighbor.

“We think of trust as a gift given to someone. They can keep and nurture this gift or lose it. We start from a position of trust that can grow or expand or be lost. Once lost, it becomes difficult to get back.

“Trust often falters when exchanges are primarily transactional, when people are only focused on where, and from whom they have benefited lately and when it is only success or failure of the immediate tasks that matter.”

The Cambridge Negotiation Institute recently convened a powerful panel of women to speak on this topic: former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell, the first and only woman to ever serve as the Prime Minister of Canada; former NATO Secretary General (2016-2019) and Former Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Rose Gottemoeller, who was the chief U.S. Negotiator of the New START Treaty with Russia (2010); Vicki Jackson, MD, MPH, Chief of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School; and Zoe Segal-Reichlin, General Counsel, Everytown for Gun Safety and former Counsel, Planned Parenthood of America. In listening to this panel of trailblazers, building trust and being relational was key to the power each woman demonstrated, not just in negotiation but in every act and relationship from personal to the highest echelons of power.

The panelists offered a few ideas on trust. You don’t have to be 100% trusting but you do need to be 100% trustworthy. Be aware of the potency of words and be precise in your use of them. Name a dilemma. A coaching example was offered in relation to an employee who was trying hard to excel individually: “I know you are working very hard to be successful and the challenge is that around here, being collaborative is key to success.”  Be aware of hierarchy in the room, even if you don’t feel like you are particularly powerful or intimidating. It could show up in terms of health disparities, positional power, age, gender or any other context, including those we might not think of.

At Worldview Intelligence we offer five key ideas, actions or behaviours on how you can grow trust and be trustworthy. They are:

  1. Be present. Bring all of yourself to the conversations, meetings and rooms that you are in. This means eliminating distractions like your phone or computer.
  2. Know and operate from your core values or principles all the time. This keeps you consistent and makes you trustworthy even when you must be strong ore refuse requests of others.
  3. Be transparent and truthful in communication. All the time. If there are things you cannot disclose, say so. People will know anyway so the more you can share about what you know and don’t know, the more truthful and trustworthy people will know you to be.
  4. Listen and inquire. When different views, perspectives or positions compete for time, attention, action, or decision, invite people to express why their proposed course of action or perspective is important to them. It will open an exploration and may lead to completely new ideas or approaches.
  5. Apologize when you are wrong. It is not weakness, it is decency. A heartfelt apology can go a long way in building trust.

Without trust, there is no us. Trust. An essential ingredient to all the meaningful work, change, transformation and relationship we want to engage.

One Response to “Without Trust, There is No Us”

January 26, 2021 at 10:39 pm, Myrna Peterson said:

Trust is essential for transparency to happen and to ensure that progress is made with integrity.