We’ve all heard it said, and just as likely, we’ve all said it: Trust Me. While it might be the most rhetorical question in the English language, this little phrase also overflows with hope and uncertainty. We use it when we want people to believe in us so much, but we can’t come up with the right words. It’s reflex more than anything.
We need to change that.
See, trust is not something that can be granted. It’s something that must be earned. Trust given without reason is not trust, it’s faith. Faith might be “good” but, by definition, there is no substance behind it. Trust has a built-in value…a specific built-in value. There are boundaries and limits to trust. Faith has no such limits. It can be given or rescinded at will. Faith is the currency of a promise. Trust, however, is a result.
Trust is the result of a good reputation. It’s the result of a number of positive experiences and a track record of equitable exchanges. It is the exact sum of time or treasure a person is willing to give in exchange for your promise to offer something of equal or greater value. That’s why trust has to be earned…and why it’s so difficult to get back once it has been lost.
The nature of trust is vital to understand in business. You might have contracts because you don’t trust your customers or colleagues or business partners. You may also have them because you want to make sure everyone understands exactly the same thing about a given transaction or relationship. There can be trust there, but it is explicitly spelled out in the language of the contract.
The benefit of trust to a manager is much greater than a clear contract. If your employees and coworkers trust you, their fears, worries and uncertainties — all those negative emotions that get in the way of success — will dissipate until they disappear. They will be willing – and able – to move the earth for you if you let them.
It is that power that makes trust both worthy to pursue and difficult to earn. Once you have it, almost anything is possible. But it cannot be requested. That’s why a great leader never has to say “trust me” … he knows they already do.
Dr. Gil Lederman is a NY doctor who knows trust is vital in business.