Friday, April 22, 2011

KeFactors Friday: Trust and Psychological Safety

Last year Linda Bishop ( and I presented a webinar series on relationship-building strategies. Figuring prominently in this was the notion of trust—the sense of psychological safety essential to fostering strong, durable bonds, and highly productive collaborations.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be discussing trust.

Trust is an instinctual response. Policemen often refer to a gut-level reaction that sends up red flags when they sense—they just know—a suspect is lying. Something just doesn’t feel right (“hinky”). A cop’s professional skepticism and wariness would be a finely tuned radar; unlike the rest of us, they’re trained to not trust so readily.

No wonder: according to strategy + business, “…People start trusting someone before they even realize it. To some degree, at least, the placing of trust is not the result of a deliberate assessment, the researchers say, but of subconscious cues.”

Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff used this quite brazenly: by dropping famous names, he created an illusion of trustworthiness for his investors. (“Hey, if Spielberg’s investing with him, he must be good!”)

But what makes trust real and solid, and when is it bogus? What happens when trust is broken? How do you restore it? How can we tell if someone’s trustworthy or not?

In my work life, I’ve worked with people who were trustworthy to varying degrees. I’ve worked hard to make myself worthy of my clients’ trust and confidence. So I know this to be true: without trust, the world becomes a dark place, the simplest actions fraught with tension. With trust, you can get just about everything done, and have fun too, because relationships come out stronger at the end of every collaboration.

No comments: