I Do Not Believe What You Are Saying


Hear this at work? What thoughts come to mind about the level of trust at your workplace?

Of course it depends on the context, so what would the context likely be for you to ‘want to dig further’?

The statement is a strong one and points to a lack of trust. Oh oh. When trust is low all kinds of things come with that. Things like suspicion, reluctance to listen or cooperate, avoidance, even possibly attack. Wow, talk about undermining the productivity of the team and destroying the happiness of the group. So, a serious matter.

We are sensing beings. We notice subtle cues and even if not consciously, those accumulate into an ‘ I don’t exactly know why, but I do not believe that person’. That sense was built by experiencing many small breeches of trust. It could have been that a confidence was broken, that someone was rude or disrespectful or mocking toward me/you. And these may have been just under the radar, innuendo, body language, dismissal only noticed by me/you or a very few. It is possible that, for the most part, this person walks on water, yet we do not believe them. Our sense is not to trust them.

If we find ourselves hearing that kind of thing and deciding to do something about it, something positive to turn it around, what are some of our options? A vital thing to notice about this is the feeling in the group. It is quite possible that just telling everyone to smarten up and quit it would be pouring gasoline on the fire.

In order to rebuild trust, the one not trusted needs to demonstrate trustworthiness, not just once, but consistently over time. That demonstration needs to continue until those who did not trust come to doubt their own non-trust and be willing to reconsider their opinion. This can be a long road. Like any journey it begins with one step and then another. One great bit of advice comes from Mark Twain who brilliantly says, “what you are doing is speaking so loudly, I can hardly hear a word you are saying”. Speaks to the topic rather elegantly, don’t you think.

Our actions, what we do, demonstrate to any who care to observe, what our underlying values truly are. Thus, to build or rebuild trust we must be consistently trustworthy ourselves. Listen to the wisdom of Mark Twain.

Magnitude of the promises broken have a material effect on my willingness to give you another chance. If we had agreed to meet at 2 o’clock and you arrive a 3 minutes past, that is different than if you don’t show up at all or steal from me in some more material way.

How the event played out puts a deposit into our relationship account. When next we are planning to meet, whatever is in the account can turn my enthusiasm about meeting again. How many times being three minutes late is equivalent to missing the meeting all together? How many times making our meetings on time, as agreed, allows me to simply accept that today you were 20 minutes late? Is it not the pattern of behaviour that sets the acceptance level? And further, if that acceptance slips into tolerance, what kind of behaviour will move the needle below tolerance into unacceptable? It is all a feeling thing and it can be delicate.

In our business, what can our work colleagues, staff, customers see that we are doing? Never mind what we say at the weekly staff meeting or in the company newsletter. What do we do? Start with that.

Joseph Seiler MCC