Are You Willing To Trust

image courtesy of shutterstock.com

In a time where international research suggests that the world is “suffering from stagnant distrust”1, gaining a more robust understanding of what it really means to trust is important. Can trust be something you give against your will? Asked another way, is it possible to unwillingly trust yourself or to trust others? To consider these questions, let’s turn to what academics from behavioural science and philosophy typically include as core elements in a definition of trust. These include:

  1. An intentional choice to trust
  2. A recognition and acceptance of vulnerability because of the risk in trusting
  3. A degree of hope or optimism that the person in whom trust is being placed is trustworthy – they have the combined competence, character and reliability to earn others’ trust.

So the idea of placing trust against your will seems to me to be problematic.

If you’re feeling you ‘have to trust someone’ and you’re doing so against your will – for example because the person is your  manager – it’s not trust that’s being given, it’s something else… but what is that something else if it can’t be unwilling trust?

It might be reluctant compliance, and that’s certainly not trust. It might be apprehensive hope, and that’s certainly not trust. It might fearful or tentative optimism and that’s certainly not trust. Or maybe it’s simply apathetic detachment and that’s certainly not trust.

This relatively simple notion of trust is in reality quite complex. We know for most people, when we have trust placed in us, we strive to earn, honour and live up to that trust. We know when we trust in others we are doing so with free will… it is our choice to trust (albeit sometimes cautiously because of being vulnerable to risk)… and with the realization that blind trust is foolhardy and we need to hold others accountable for the trust we place in them.

Finally there’s the trust we willingly place in ourselves – sometimes we may let ourselves down but nonetheless it would seem nonsensical to think we could ever unwillingly trust ourselves. This dialogue would sound something like this “I don’t want to trust myself but I will anyway”… It just doesn’t make sense that trust can ever be given unwillingly.

Maybe this is a bit academic, theoretical and philosophical for you and that’s ok. However, what’s not ok is to ever take trust for granted because it impacts almost every measure of success in your professional and personal life.

So let me leave you with this question; who are you intentionally choosing to place your trust in, and importantly, how are you holding them accountable for that trust?

  1. 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer – visit www.edelman.com/trust-barometer
Share this article
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More Articles & Research from David Penglase

Lead like Nordic Countries to Boost Well-being and Success

Hold yourself accountable for fostering trust, mutual respect, and support in your own teams and between individual team members, and there’s a big chance you’re going to positively impact the well-being of your individual and collective team members … oh, and at the same time, science also tells us, you’ll more than likely get a boost to your own sense of life satisfaction and well-being too.

Read More »
trust-reliability-david-penglase

Are You Willing To Trust

In a time where international research suggests that the world is “suffering from stagnant distrust”, gaining a more robust understanding of what it really means to trust is important.

Read More »

New Year, New Look, New Book, New Brand

One of my greatest lessons from years of research into human behaviour is the importance of being clear on our personal values. Without considering and determining your personal values, you are left without a compass upon which to turn for guidance in life’s many moments of choice.

Read More »