Today I am going to write a short blog post about trust. Of the kind “I trust my fellow man” trust.
Sometimes coincidences fall into our daily lives. I am above average interested in philosophy and read a lot of such material whereever I come across it. Anyone who follows my blog posts (and believe me, there are not many of you) sees that I have a penchant for Alan Watts, Mark Manson – that is, both professional and everyday philosophers. But I also read a lot of other things. Coincidentally, I am currently reading Alan Watt’s collected works from 1960 to 1969, at the same time as I received Mark Manson’s monthly newsletter. (In addition, I heard a couple of other podcasts)
The tone of the review in all of these was: trust.
The narcissists among us
This made me naturally reflect on my own relationship to trust. At the end of the last century. (Yes, we’re talking 1996 -) I ran an advertising agency, which over the winter of 1997, became increasingly concentrated on web development.
We did very well and quickly became 8-9 employees. I read a lot of books about leadership skills, but found that the best thing one could do was to trust people to do their job. My most important task was to motivate, facilitate and initiate things. In other words: Have confidence in my employees.
I quickly learned that there are two types of leaders (very roughly outlined)
- Those who govern according to a philosophy that employees are lazy and try to do as little as possible.
- Those who govern according to a philosophy that if people like their work, they do not need to be kept an eye on.
They fix things themselves.
Guess which companies do it best over time?
But let’s talk more about trust.
Trust is the base layer of all human relationships
“Without trust, there can be no value exchange, no community, no intimacy.
If I do not trust my wife, then her affection will feel lifeless and empty. If I do not trust my business partner, then no amount of work will feel useful. If I do not trust my neighbors or society, then I will see no reason to go out and engage with the world.
Trust is the prerequisite to building anything good and meaningful in this world.
The problem is, humans do a lot of shit that makes them untrustworthy. Our natural disposition is to be short-term, selfish actors. Research shows that most people will lie, cheat, or steal if put in a position where they believe they can get away with it. On top of that, we instinctively fall prey to “us versus them” thinking, which we then use to justify lying, cheating, or stealing. “
And the psychopaths among us
Of course, I do not agree with MM in all this, but then I read an article about Narcissism. Where the basic theme of the diagnosis was that the narcissist has a fundamental lack of trust in the environment. Hence the need for confirmations and manipulation.
It is interesting to see that surveys show that top managers in businesses score relatively high on narcissism and psychopathy. (Although that word is no longer in use to describe people who run their own race, unscrupulously.)
Why should we care if trust is low or high?
The answer is that trust is crucial for a good society and for developing a good business community. For example, our entire economy depends on the citizens and businesses having confidence that the banks are taking care of their money and that they can access it at any time if they wish.
If we did not trust each other, then any money transaction would be significantly more expensive, which would go beyond the companies. When banks lend money to companies and private individuals, they have confidence that this money will be repaid in agreed installments and interest over a long period of time. This means that contractors can take risks, companies can make long-term investments and we as individuals do not have to save all the money before we can buy a house.
At the same time, we also know that different forms of trust are interdependent. If you trust your fellow human beings, you are more likely to trust the political institutions (Almond & Verba, 2015; Inglehart, 1997; Putnam, 2001). The same goes the other way.
The seven important result of trust
Trust creates psychological safety (From the importensite.com)When there’s trust between people, they feel safe psychologically. This means they are not afraid that speaking up might cost them anything bad. (ridicule, their reputations or jobs.) Psychological safety is also important in personal relationships.
A child who trusts their parent is not afraid that something they do or say will make their parent stop loving them.
Trust improves communication
In every type of relationship good communication is important. If there is no trust, bad communication is the result. There’s fear that what is communicated might be used as retaliation or – at the very least – it will not be respected. People will avoid speeking with each other, which can only have negative consequences down the road.
Misunderstandings are more common. When there’s trust, communication is open and honest.
Trust promotes self-confidence
Insecurity, misunderstanding, fear of speaking up leads to an environment where there is no trust. Without that in place, it’s very easy for a person’s confidence to plummet. They will not take as many risks or express their creativity. Within a safe space of trust, people can be themselves and be validated. This can only boost their self-confidence and encourage more trust and vulnerability.
Trust increases productivity
Combine risk-taking, fast decisions, and self-confidence in the workplace, and you end up
Trust facilitates meaningful connections
Trust is the backbone of healthy, happy relationships whether they’re romantic or not. When you trust that a person respects and loves you, it’s much easier to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is what fosters real, close connection. The journey to getting to a place where there’s trust also builds closeness. With each experience that proves a person’s trustworthiness, others feel more comfortable and safe.
Trust reduces stress
Whether it’s in the workplace or personal relationships, a lack of trust is emotionally exhausting. A person feels like they’re walking through a minefield, unsure when something they say or do could backfire on them. They always feel like they’re looking over their shoulder in case someone is about to stab them in the back. This is extremely stressful. Being in an environment with trust lets a person relax and feel safe. Their stress decreases.
Trust increases feelings of optimism
If you look at someone who identifies as a pessimist, odds are they’ve not experienced a lot of trust. On the contrary, trust tells a person that the world is not that dangerous.
I let (as always) Alan Watts have the last word:
“If you can not trust yourself, you can not even trust your mistrust of yourself – so that without this underlying trust in the whole system of nature you are simply paralyzed”
– Alan Watts
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(Or who do you want to be at the age of 96?) Restarting your life (or reinventing it), sounds like an American “pull yourself together”
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Everything written in these pages is based on personal experience. Overall, this is the way I remember what happened. And everything, of course, is based on
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