“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”  Emminently sensible contribution to World Peace from Ernest Hemmingway, and one with which I fully concur.  I talk about Trust a lot on my Negotiations courses.  It’s the first step towards finding a Win/Win, and without it someone is going to end up on the wrong end of the deal.

I use the CORE model to explain the ingredients of Trust:  to create it you have to demonstrate these four things as quickly as possible:

  • Competence (proving you know your stuff, have prepared, are the right person etc.)
  • Reliability (doing what you say you will)
  • Openness (expressing feelings as well as sharing information)
  • Equity (making it feel like a 2-way street.  I give you something, you reciprocate).

I think Hemingway is referring to the Openness item.  I sometimes explain building Openness as a bit like two people taking their clothes off.  If Openness can be explained as a state of nakedness between two people, then they start fully clothed, and the best way to encourage the other person to start undressing is by taking an item off yourself first.  So I remove a low risk item first, maybe my tie, and you do the same (with luck – if not I may need to reconsider my tactics!). I remove my belt and you do the same.  No need for me to explain the rest.

The point is we can start to work towards Trust by me making the first move on a low risk item.  You then follow, and over time we become more and more open, and the whole thing is so much easier for both parties.

My own experience is that Trust is being eroded at work, for various reasons.  Economic climate aside (ie people are in defence mode and prefer not to take risk with others or to display their own vulnerabilities), I’d say it has a lot to do with the way relationships have become eroded over the years, and how much more socially autistic we have become from overuse of technology and increased pressure to communicate remotely.  A sad reflection on our world, but there we are.  It’s something we can all work at a little more, so that at least in our own microclimate the Trust levels are higher.  Every little helps, as they say.

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