I was sitting at the airport working away on my laptop last week when I realized I needed to use the facilities before the plane boarded. I had a prime working spot in the waiting area and knew that if I moved my stuff, I would not only lose my prime working spot but also likely lose any spot to sit all together.
I looked at the gentleman across the aisle and asked him if he minded just keeping his eyes on my stuff while I was gone for only two minutes going to the ladies’ room. I joked that my wallet was there, so I trusted him. Several people in the immediate vicinity heard me, so I felt quite comfortable in trusting this complete stranger feeling confident that if he did intend to walk away with my stuff, someone would say something (and he would miss his flight too, which would be far more expensive than the $40 I had in my wallet).
I tend to believe the best in people and felt confident I could trust this unknown man.
Warren, my husband, laughed at me and told me he would have packed all his stuff up and taken it to the washroom with him.
We have different approaches to trust. It isn’t about right or wrong, but they do show themselves differently in how they display in our communications.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”f6cVG” via=”yes” ]We have different approaches to trust. It isn’t about right or wrong. Which one are you?[/ctt]
Which are you?
- Would you have trusted a stranger with your belongings? Are you the type of person who trusts people (obviously within reason – we do trust our instincts) without knowing them? You trust until they prove to you that you cannot trust them. And then it is hard for you ever to trust them again. People call you naïve and too trusting and tell you that you shouldn’t do that as you’ll get “burned.”
- Would you have packed up your belongings and lost your prime working seat because you don’t trust strangers? As much as you know that generally, people are good, people need to earn your trust. Once they prove that you can rely on what they say or do, there are no issues. People call you cynical at times.
Neither is right and neither nor wrong. They are just different.
However, it is important to know that not everyone is the same as you. When I ask this question in my workshop, most rooms are about 50% split. And because everyone is not the same, these approaches to trust may cause tension in your working relationships.
Assume you are the type to trust automatically and start working with a new team member. Your new team member has the opposite style of trust. You’re both on a project together as peers, yet you feel uneasy that your new team member doesn’t trust you or really like you. They often follow up to check on your progress and touch base with you. More often than you think is reasonable, and it makes you feel that they don’t trust you to do your part of the project.
Why are they doing that? Because they don’t trust you yet. You haven’t earned it from their point of view. You may earn their trust with them on this one project, but the fact that they are following up with you doesn’t mean they don’t like you; it does mean they are learning to trust you.
When I was a receptionist in my first full-time job, the office manager was often out of the office. My day ended at 5 pm, and you could guarantee he would call the office at 4:59 to see if he needed to know anything that happened that day.
I was 19 and knew a lot less about trust then. I assumed he called at 4:59 to see if I was still there. After all, I could have paged him if there were any issues (this was long before cell phones). I interpreted his calling me as him checking up on me, making me angry. I knew I was trustworthy and wasn’t going to skip out early. But it caused tension when the phone rang at 4:59 as it felt like he didn’t trust me.
And maybe that’s exactly what it was. He was learning if he could trust me. Perhaps the call was a check-up, but maybe it wasn’t, and he just wanted to check in with me before I left for the day.
There isn’t anything wrong with that.
Perhaps in our team example, you are the person doing the follow-up to ensure the other person is still on target with timelines. You might interpret the fact that they don’t check up on you as they are letting you fail without offering help. You may interpret the fact they aren’t checking up on you as they don’t care about you at all (and potentially don’t like you).
[ctt template=”3″ link=”T6Zq5″ via=”yes” ]Don’t assume the worst of everyone[/ctt]
Sometimes we just need to understand how our brain works. Don’t assume the worst of everyone. Don’t assume everyone thinks the same way you do. It’s not always about right or wrong; it is about understanding.
Oh, and the man who I left in charge of my stuff? When I returned two minutes later (no exaggeration on time), the man was gone. My stuff was there, but he didn’t honor his commitment to watching my belongings.
What did I learn? You can’t trust everyone.