The Webster dictionary defines trust as “an assured reliance on the character, ability, or truth of someone or something”. Trust is one the key foundational blocks upon which most groups, teams and organizations exist. It forms the basis for open dialogue, honesty, collaboration and a sense of collectivism towards a common purpose. However sometimes “trust” is misinterpreted and so it’s important to understand the sub elements to clarify where the issue might be. Consequently breakdowns in “trust” can more easily be addressed through this better understanding. Let’s look at all three based on the definition above.
This speaks to a person’s integrity which for most is an essential value. One may not necessarily agree with or like everything somebody does but there is an expectation or a given around always telling the truth. This is the cornerstone of trust.
How you show up and present yourself suggests a certain personality or character. But it’s typically only when presented in a genuine and authentic fashion over time does it earn the trust of others. This too is viewed as very important at a personal level to an individual.
The form of trust that is most applicable to the workplace is one where the reliability associated with somebody’s competence or ability becomes questionable. “You can never trust him to get the job done” or “Mary’s people have no trust in her”. This is often at the core of performance related issues.
As mentioned previously within the context of work these three different aspects of trust can become confused. A manager might say “I don’t trust that employee” and not make any distinctions in terms of which aspect of trust they are alluding to. Consequently the natural reaction is for the employee to feel that their integrity (truth) or character is being questioned which typically leads to a very unfavorable reaction. So be sure to consider what you mean when using the word trust and to clarify during conversations.