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The Truth About Trust Posted on October 2, 2019

Written by Innovation Speaker Bernadette McCelland

If we hang out with those we know, like and trust, then why, when someone says, ‘trust me’, don’t we?

Trust is one of those words – we know it when we feel it.

And we feel it because it is more than finding someone with whom we can entrust a long-held childhood secret.

Trust is a survival mechanism.

It is a resource that we have access to that will either keep us safe or help us identify a threat, regardless of our environment.

Because we are social creatures, we tend to ‘give someone a go’ first.  The threat response is calmed and settles down due to the release of the chemical, oxytocin, also ensuring our survival.  Why? Because we need each other, to rely on each other, to collaborate and support each other to move forward as a species. Sometimes, though, that bond is disrupted for many different reasons, and in split seconds and we begin to lose trust.

And in the absence of trust, being this biological and chemical response to our environment, we naturally default to one or two other biological responses – once again, for survival.

We might experience fight or flight, a response that protects us from social threats where we either kill the woolly mammoth (and they still exist in boardrooms today J), or we retreat.

And if the threat is more environmental, then we become immobilised, similar to when an animal plays dead, and too many people know that feeling.

So, as we go about our daily lives and business interactions, what are some of the main components of trust, so that our social interactions remain successful? I have tabled four that I believe are key:

  1. Faith [Beyond Belief] - a knowing deep down within ourselves that when it comes to our own safety, certainty and us being OK, we will be OK.
  2. Honesty [Hand on Heart] - transparency and forthrightness is key to trust, even if it means having the tough conversations and telling people what they may not want to hear, to serve them best.
  3. Interest [Curiosity vs Cynicism] - in the absence of authentic interest lies ignorance and suspicion and we need more than ever, people who not just talk the talk but walk the talk, for us to trust and follow.
  4. Ethics [Fighting the Good Fight] -  when there is a misalignment or lack of values, where corruption such as the recent royal commissions occur and where we have created resources such as Edelman’s Trust Barometer, ethics leads to trust.

Not only is trust a key component of our growth at a personal level (I mean, how many of us can’t even trust ourselves to do what we say we will do on New Year’s Eve?), not only is it a key leadership competency to enable growth within our teams and our businesses, but I believe the truth about trust is also the price of entry within today’s global and political economic growth. 

Bernadette McClelland is one of Australia’s Leading Speakers on Sales Performance, Resilience and Personal Leadership. She is also a powerful influencer for ‘Women Who Sell’ and those individuals, leaders and businesses wanting to up the ante and #playBIGGER! If you would like to know more about Bernadette CLICK HERE or call us on 1300 55 64 69