Do you trust senior members of your organisation to get it right or to be a credible source of information? Do you trust the constant stream of commercial messages and political spin to which you are exposed. What can be done to help to build trust?
Benefits of trust within an organisation and community
Organisational and community life is not risk-free and depends on an appropriate degree of trust. Trust makes social life predictable, it creates a sense of community, and it makes it easier for people to work together.
“Trust makes the world go ’round,”
Where there is an element of distrust between neighbours over social nuisance issues or between local tradesmen and customers, then there is damage to community cohesion. Whatever the type of organisation you are associated with, you will probably know that to try to build trust among its members, stakeholders and users is crucial for things to go well. Significant distrust much increases the time it takes to get things done.
Help to build trust by being trustworthy
Trying to build trust can help the general quality of life so that people can thrive. Be trustworthy by doing what you say you will do and doing it well and on time. Keep secret what people confide in you and don’t betray the organisation’s confidential information. At the same time talk straight and don’t spin facts, telling the truth even if this is not always comfortable or pleasant. For example own up to mistakes and if caught in a lie admit it explaining why you were less than honest.
Help to build trust by trusting others
Show trust with neither gullibility nor cynicism (see here ) For example getting recommendations before engaging a plumber or electrician but then trusting them to do a good job and not overcharge beyond their estimate. In the last analysis life is not risk-free.
Being a little open speaking your feelings means being a little vulnerable. You can be truthful about how you define a boundary around what you are keeping secret. Honesty helps to create rapport and rapport builds trust. Likewise volunteering information you didn’t have to give. In other words demonstrate your trust in others and they will trust you.
Help to build trust by being generous
Trust grows when mutual commitments are delivered without concern for personal advantage or attempted manipulation or control. So be willing to share your knowledge, your contacts, and your sympathy — without expecting anything in return. The more you take the initiative to give, the more it builds trust.
Help to build trust by making positive contact across social lines
Since its legal inception in 1921 Northern Ireland has been plagued with violence and dispute. The central problem of mistrust there has been probably caused by a mixture of perceived imperial action by Great Britain, an entrenchment of the past, cultural clashes and a severe identity crisis.
Research by social psychologists has established that positive contact across social lines when it is frequent non-threatening, non-anxiety provoking, tends to reduce prejudice. This was true in the results of study of students in Northern Ireland who identify themselves as belonging to either the Protestant or Catholic community Friendships across a group divide such as the religious divide, can powerfully reduce prejudice and suspicion. Simply knowing other ingroup members who have friendships with outgroup members can also lead to reduction in prejudice.
Help to build trust by looking for the good in others
According to spiritual philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg there are limits of trust in this world because we are not all in a heavenly state. There are people who increase mistrust due to selfish greed and dishonesty. However he says that people with a charitable heart try to look for the good in others.
I would interpret this to mean, when challenging someone, first speak to what is good about someone rather than overplaying the negative — in other words showing respect even when you are inclined to be critical.
Help to build trust in diversity
Swedenborg says that heaven hangs together as a unified whole in harmony although it shows a huge variety of individual differences between its inhabitants. No two people are ever entirely alike as to their memories, perceptions and thoughts, or to their feelings, inclinations and intentions. Despite this, because of their heavenly character, they live in complete unanimity and harmony.
He also describes the heavenly afterlife in terms of openness. In heaven this is said be as a state of being where one’s inner state is seen by others. So he maintains that the wise ideas and intentions of one individual are directly shared with another.
“Heaven is where everyone shares everything of value. This is because the very nature of heavenly love is to want what is one’s own to belong to another.” (Swedenborg Heaven & Hell section 268)
For him, this love is the basis of heavens trust and happiness.
Copyright 2013 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of Heart, Head & Hands Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems