I’ve had to do a fair bit of thinking about trust over the past couple of weeks. It’s an issue that constantly raises its head quite a few times, but one that I have not really grappled with, or only in passing. It’s obviously something incredibly important to successful relationships, working and social.
I like Dave Snowden’s view that trust is an emergent property of relationships – it develops through the actions and behaviours we observe of each other. It is also an expectation that one can believe that another will be competent or hold their end of the bargain, etc. So as an expectation it has a future dimension, and as an emergent property it has a historical dimension.
But how do we build trust? What are its elements? Trust is like building a house, or more precisely, an A-frame house. In the interests of alliteration (it’s easier sometimes to remember things that way), and along with a fellow co-designer (Ann whose name just happens to start with “A” as well!), we came up with the five items that make up the A-frame of Trust.
Adventure – trust requires someone to be vulnerable in some way, of being open to something that might affect them and of the possibility of being hurt or embarrassed.
Agreement – trust requires an agreement between two or more people. Trust can be lost when that agreement is broken.
Authenticity – trust develops when people act with integrity, are true to their word, and are authentic in their dealings.
Accountability – trust further develops when people understand that they will be held to account for their actions or inactions.
Apology – in order to restore trust, there needs to be understanding that trust has been broken, that there could either be fault or at a minimum a serious difference of perspective, that a conflict has arisen which is best overcome through an apology.
The arrangement of the five items in the A-Frame is intended. Apology is the bridging device, Adventure and Accountability are the key supports, and agreement and authenticity help balance each other.
Thanks for Shawn at Anecdote for his interesting note on Trust which served as some inspiration.