February 19, 2018

Is trust an all or nothing thing?

Three people, two shaking handsOne idea leads to another. Quickly the project takes shape. It’s all quite unexpected and the end result is way beyond the initial starting point. Why? Because the individuals involved trust each other absolutely, not so much about money though that is important, but about sharing the risks of vulnerability and relying on the other’s support. And, by the way, they have never met face-to-face.

In contrast…

The parties cautiously suggest minor changes, protecting their position at all times, giving little away, trying various gambits, manipulating the numbers, always on their guard. The end result is an improvement on the starting point, but only just. And it’s slow. Being face-to-face doesn’t seem to help much.

In a workshop on “information overload”, participants seem to like the idea of deciding whether individual relationships are trusting or not, and dealing with them one way or another if they aren’t, because relationships without trust consume energy and generate excess information to be handled.

There’s no rocket science here, but I’ve been struck by what a huge difference absolute trust makes in a working relationship – not so much a factor of 2 as a factor of 10.

Of course…

Trust is one of these “be the change you want to see” things. If we want other people to be trustworthy, we need to be that way ourselves. We need to be on the high ground. No use trying to get other people to trust us, if we’re not trustworthy ourselves. (I’ve heard people say they don’t trust such-and-such a person, having just revealed how they’ve manipulated their own numbers. Funny that.)

But what about when it seems unclear?

Can you have degrees of trust? Can you half trust someone (or a business)? Or a quarter, or three-quarters?

Here’s an angle…

On-line, I believe it’s an absolute, more than off-line. On line, anything less than 100% trust is no trust at all. So our attitude to trust is increasingly important.

What do you think?

Relief from information overload

Exhausted computer userThe email Inbox just gets bigger. The paper in-tray still stacks up dauntingly too. And that’s not to mention all the other channels: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Skype text chat, SMS messages on mobile/cell phones, and StumbleUpon to mention only some. Oh I nearly forgot Google+. And then there’s Facebook’s LinkedIn “me too”, otherwise known as Branchout. Ever feel you’re caught in the middle of a communication arms race?

So what’s to do?

The net effect of all this communication could be the well-known phrase “information overload,” but does that description really help us? After all, the information exists whether we chose to look at it or not. How much attention do we pay to a piece of low value information that happens to be on our computer screen versus a piece of high value information that isn’t in front of us at all?

Perhaps we need to take charge of our attention and decide where to direct our interest.

Of course…

We can learn various practical techniques for processing information quickly, and they’re very valuable too. Will we ever outrun the flood though?

There’s another way…

Information flow is a manifestation of a relationship of some kind. Take that relationship to a deeper, more trusting, more profound level and we won’t need to handle so much data. The details become unimportant and fall into place much more easily – or can be set aside altogether. Head in the opposite direction away from trust, and you’ll need every information-handling trick you can find.

How to take a relationship deeper to a more profound level?

Find out what truly matters to the other person or organization and cherish that sincerely.

Too simple? Maybe not.