August 1998 / Special Feature : An Issue Of Trust
Trust In Whom
by Peter Block
Emergency Room Physician
Air Traffic Controller
Joel Henning on Trust
Ask Joel Henning about trust and he rolls his eyes and sighs. In my work it is one of the most frequently used words and the difficulty is that so much is wagered on it. When you bring up trust it is such a heavy momenta unique bonding that will forever define this relationship.
Trust has so many hidden meanings, particularly around
the issues of self-disclosure. If I tell you what I really think or
what I want, will you do me no harm? At a deeper level, when people use
this hidden meaning of trust, they are really asking us to behave in ways
that are to their advantage and in essence exerting a subtle form of control.
Giving up on this naive understanding of trust might be a better solution in Hennings eyes. The truth is that human beings are not going to live their lives the way we want them to. Instead, in the work situation, we should set up systems around what are we going to achieve and what are we going to do and who is accountable.
A recent client of mine was the leader of a large metropolitan newspaper and a very loving patriarch. The newspaper was in serious trouble and all of the employees wanted a promise that he would save them. They wanted to trust that he would do that. And being a good patriarch he wanted to do that. I counseled him that he would be going down a very rocky road and encouraged him to be honest and authentic about the condition of the paper and what he saw himself capable of doing or not doing.
Honesty is key to developing trusting relationships. Henning would prefer, even in intimate relationships, a lifelong commitment to being honest about your life and what is meaningful, as opposed to a lifelong commitment to just being there.