Establishing a high level of trust among your peers and workmates is important for developing an environment where creativity can flourish. Trust is essential for removing boundaries of fear (which is a common block to creativity). Trust will also help in developing fast and flexible organisational structures that can cope with and capture ideas and innovation. Finally, studies have shown trust will boost the amount of various organisationally beneficial behaviors and workplace satisfaction.
Okay, have I convinced you? If so, here are six ideas about trust to keep in mind when thinking about the trustal relationships in your life
1. Trust is a characteristic of a relationship, not a cognitive trait
Especially for organisations, I suggest taking the sociological perspective of trust, not the psychological one. This is because you are thinking about your organisation as a society, not as a bunch of individual psyches. The sociological perspective is that trust is a characteristic of a relationship. It is not innately inside any person – it simply describes the behavior of a relationship. When thinking about trust, you should be thinking about relationships.
2. There are three aspects to a trustal relationship
Trust can be viewed as a characteristic of a relationship, but there is another dimension. This dimension is which issues the trust relates to. For example, A trusts B in relation to C. John trusts Peter to borrow his umbrella (but not his car). One can’t aimlessly attempt to build trust. One must understand the issues where you need to focus.
3. The 2 dimensions of ‘trustworthiness’
To understand how trust forms, it is logical that there are certain “dimensions” that suggest this ‘trustworthiness’ in a person. Studies have shown at least two main dimensions:
1. Competence or reliability (known as “cognitive based trust”)
2. Integrity, honesty and commitment to ‘do no harm’ – in relation to stated issues
Do you see these dimensions? How can you build on them? Which brings us to the next point…
4. One must see these dimensions so they can build trust
The lesson here -again, as studies tell us – is that various forms of formal control actually reduce trust. This is because, when there are formal controls and sanctions in place, any dimensions of trust we see are automatically attributed to these controls, not to the actual person. Trust isn’t a matter of “Build it and they will come”, it is more “Show them it’s there and they will believe you”
5. Don’t forget affective trust
Trustal relationships can be divided into two types: cognitive-based trust (see above) and affective trust. Affective trust is created through appreciation of a relationship – it is emotionally-based. Consider a married couple – it is likely they trust each other because of their emotions for each other, not necessarily because of any logical reason.
However, affective and cognitive-based trust often interrelate and rarely exist in isolation. Affective trust and cognitive-based trust will build on each other and strengthen each other. Help the people around you like each other more. Strengthen their relationships and they will find reasons to trust each other
6. Trust Makes Trust
Finally, studies have suggested that people tend to try to live up to the trust you place in them. If you want to build trust, start by showing trust. In most cases this trust will be honored.
I have not included any references here because I expect you to trust me…
But if you want to read more about these ideas try The Oxford Handbook of Analytical Sociology!
Feature image courtesy of Marilyn Peddle