Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Trust you! (or do we??)

We trust people, not institutions and we prefer gangs to bankers.

In November’s Thinking Tank we tackled the topical issue of trust – how it gets built and what breaks it.  Compared to other debates there was more disagreement – but that tended to be with statements recommending a deeply sceptical approach to life.

Personal vs institutional
Most of the change has been in the way we relate to institutions with unanimous support for the comment:
· I think before it was blind trust - now our eyes are open we realise it is foolhardy to trust most institutions.
 In the poll questions, we saw that about 70% of us are less trusting of institutions than we were ten years ago - compared to only 30% who trust individual people less than before. And out of the institutions we considered (banks, corporates, politicians, gangs) the banks were seen as the least trustworthy:
· They can change strategy without reference to anyone and are not democratic

A positive choice
To force the issue, we considered which we choose if we had to: trust everyone or trust no-one. By far the majority view is that it is better to operate from a trust default than a mistrust one.
· Everyone: we need to take some personal risks if we are to grow, it might be cosy in the comfort zone but its pretty pointless
· Everyone otherwise life would be unbearable
· Everyone: I find when you give trust, you very often get it back

Breaking promises…
Trust is surprisingly easy to break – 80% of us only allow need to be let down once or twice to lose faith, though it depends a bit on the context
· if someone is holding the rope when you're rock climbing, once is enough. But generally I think people make mistakes and some tolerance is ok too
And dishonesty seems to be the main cause:
· Double speak - I'd rather hear the tough stuff straight than be belittled with some cover story
· not being open
Though the media also get some blame for spreading fear:
· People who read the Daily Mail (or similar fear filled newspaper in another country) are constantly reminded of how dangerous everybody is OUT THERE

… and building bridges
The issue of how to know when to trust someone had the highest level of consensus in the debate, part of the human condition, and very similar to the ways we would have trusted people in the past.
· That they do what they say - or explain honestly why they didn't (not stupid excuses)
· that they can look me in the eye when they explain what is going to happen - even if it's bad news
And there were some ideas about building trust
· I wish we had a system on everybody's forehead that gave us that same feedback info like e-bay!
· [tomorrow I will] notice when I'm being less than completely honest / open and consider the impact on the other person

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