It’s not just politicians that have developed a worrying reputation for dishonesty, with trust levels throughout Britain dropping to catastrophic lows. This instant mistrust extends to every part of our lives, from celebrities, to family, to workmates. In fact a recent study conducted by Credit Plus found that 3 in 10 of us donít think we can trust our colleagues at all.
These numbers are all the more worrying when considering just how necessary trust is within the office. Robert Bruce Shaw, Managing Principal at Princeton MCG, goes so far as to suggest without it productivity levels will be significantly lower. Writing “a high-trust environment fosters what some call psychological safety, resulting in a more open and collaborative work culture”, Shaw highlights the necessity of being able to share ideas, without fear of repercussions, either via rejection or plagiarism.
Whilst we can counter fears of others taking ideas, by attempting to care more about the company than our careers, fostering trust that we’ll be taken seriously and not mocked for bold statements can be a little trickier. Ruth Sherman, President and Founder of Ruth Sherman Associates LLC, suggests that “creating and maintaining trust in this area should start from the top down”, writing for leaders and managers, sharing a story about a time you may have failed and what you learned from it can make you seem more human, not perfect, and certainly builds camaraderie and trust. Once you know that mistakes aren’t seen as the end of the world, you’ll be more willing to flag up your own blunders and problems will be less likely to get out of hand.
Dr Paul Zak, author of ‘Trust Factor; The Science of Creating High-Performing Companies’, says that the most effective way employers can foster trust between colleagues is to ensure they are able to interact on a personal level. Writing “we trust people who we feel connected to emotionally”, Zak stresses the importance of allowing employees time together ‘away’ from their desks. This ‘personal time’ doesn’t have to only extend to traditional teambuilding days, but rather could simply mean a meal out or gokarting trip. But whether you’re chowing down on steak, or tearing around a race track, the important factor is that trust is built around a mutual respect and over a little fun. In fact, the first week at Goodman Masson for new starters is spent dipping in and out of informal meetings with colleagues, meaning an immediate camaraderie is built.
Though there’s always the risk of betrayal, with the average adult being betrayed 3 times a year, following Ernest Hemingway’s advice that ‘the best way to find out if you can trust someone is to trust them’ can be beneficial for both your career and your mental wellbeing, with a study conducted by J.B Rotter finding that people who trust more are less likely to be unhappy and more likely to make friends.
And if you’re unsure how to get others to trust you, try taking some tips from David Attenborough, who the British public have voted the most trustworthy celebrity.
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