Have you ever felt betrayed by someone you trusted and unable to explain why? Have your work relationships eroded your self-confi dence? Do family relationships leave you not feeling "safe" or appreciated? Trust on Trial looks at the trust concept as it exists in American society today and assists the readers in defining what trust is and what factors make up the concept of trust. Readers are encouraged to defi ne for themselves what they mean by trust and what a trusting relationship looks like to them.
This is not a how-to book but rather an in-depth look at the concept of trust, what characterizes it in our society and what it means to the readers as individuals.
The goal of the book is to assist the reader in understanding the role that trust plays in their lives and to make good sound decisions concerning future trust relationships. Opportunities are provided in each individual chapter in this book for readers to refl ect on their own experiences in the different aspects of trust being discussed. A website has been established to provide an opportunity for readers to share some of their refl ections and any insights that they may have gained through this process.
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About the Author
Union Institute & University in Organizational
Behavior. Her background includes serving as an educator, facilitator, professor, management consultant, and Director of Human Resources.
After living in Colorado for over twenty years,
Cecile now resides in Chesapeake, Virginia.
Read an Excerpt
TRUST ON TRIALWHOM DO YOU TRUST AND WHY?
By Cecile T. Massé
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2009 Cecile T. Massé, Ph.D.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTHE TRUST PREMISES
In preparation for an excursion into such a life altering topic as trust, it is important to address the framework within which we "see" trust. What experiences shape our reactions to trust issues? With what "eyes" do we observe the human interactions that ultimately lead to trust or distrust? The eye of the beholder is molded by the experiences of the beholder and these experiences play a major role in the daily decisions to trust or distrust. Also the belief systems within which we operate, either consciously or unconsciously, contribute significantly to our interpretation of a trust situation. There appear to be overarching principles that facilitate and set the scene for the greater understanding and interpretation of this microscopic look at trust.
The intent of this chapter is to address these overarching principles, or premises, that affect our inspection and understanding of the eight factors which we will be discussing in the following chapter. The official definition of a premise is: to set forth beforehand, as by way of introduction or explanation. Some of these premises may seem self-evident and elementary, but it is surprising how many times they are ignored in favor of choosing to trust blindly. Before reflecting on the material in the following chapters, it's important to see what was "set forth beforehand" as we shaped our present assumptions on trust. These are personal understandings that exist within when examining the nature of trust.
Before you can learn to trust, you have to know who you are. "Know Thyself"
-Plato Greek philosopher and mathematician (428-348BC)
"Know Thyself" was the motto carved in stone on the entrance of the school founded by the Greek philosopher Plato. We have all heard this saying at one point or another in our lives, perhaps with great thought, perhaps with some reflection, or perhaps with boredom. But in discussing trust, this short sentence is crucial. It is all encompassing in the sense that it sets the tone for how we see ourselves, and how we see ourselves is critical in shaping our ability to trust both ourselves and others. In the advanced civilizations of ancient history, self-understanding was highly valued and considered as the true mark of wisdom. Over the years the emphasis on self-understanding was lost in favor of the materialism that surrounds us in our daily world of living. In today's society, what others think and say is often more valued than self-knowledge and understanding. We are influenced by the media and are tempted to succumb to their manipulations to decide for us who we should be, what we should think, what we should buy, and what we should have. As we reflect on the commercials, the movies and TV shows we find that they define the values that dominate the American scene. They do this because so many people give them control over their thinking; it seems easier to accept what others say than to critically think things through for ourselves. As mentioned, we will discuss critical thinking skills further in the last chapter. In engaging in our own critical thinking process, we are able to evaluate for ourselves what is important to us and what values we subscribe to. Knowing oneself is a powerful tool in learning to accept ourselves, which supports our ability to trust effectively.
Often cited in response to the question, "What is your a favorite quote?" is this one by Shakespeare: "To thine own-self be true; and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."- Hamlet. Act I. Sc. 3. But the question remains - how can we be true to ourselves if we haven't tried to understand who we really are? In this regard, a wonderful quote from Dr. Seuss advises us to "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." How many readers have taken on the time-consuming process of self-knowledge and self-understanding? I suspect that the answer is less than 50%. Trusting effectively is built on knowing one's self.
What was meaningful for me in learning about the Crow Indian customs, (and this is true of most American Indians) is the belief that a child comes into the world with his/her own unique strengths and talents, and once born, that child is observed by adult Indians who wait for these strengths and talents to manifest. Once they are discovered, it is the role of family and friends to do everything possible to encourage and assist in developing these strengths and talents, thereby allowing the child to "know itself." This is considerably different from today's society where parents push children toward an occupation that the parents favor - doctor, lawyer, or other well-paying professions. I'm reminded of the movie "The Natural." In the opening scene Roy Hobbes, the protagonist who is gifted in the sport of baseball, as a boy is playing "catch" with his father in the yard. His father reminds him "It's not enough to have a talent son, you must develop it." We all do come into the world with our own unique strengths and talents but sadly enough you will hear people say, even as adults, "I really don't know what my strengths or talents are." Knowing our gifts is one part of the equation, developing these gifts and talents is also essential. Knowing who we are and what our talents and strengths are is the solid foundation on which to build goals and dreams.
"Each person's only hope for improving his lot rests on recognizing the true nature of his or her basic personality, surrendering to it, and becoming who he or she really is." -Sheldon Kopp Psychotherapist (1929-1999)
Knowing yourself is a very important action to take in choosing to trust others.
You may wish to post your reflections or comments on www. trustontrial.com
Question: Who are you?
In answering this question, did you define yourself as part of a family, nationality, church member, or by your standing in society? Did you respond by citing your interests, likes, dislikes? Did you relate your information in terms of how secure you feel or have felt in your life?
How do you feel about the way you responded to this question? Does your understanding of who you are come mostly from others' reactions to you or from knowledge that you've discovered about yourself?
Question: What is your greatest strength? Are you using it to full advantage in your life?
Reflection: Are you able to state what you feel your strength(s) is or are? Have you developed your talents and gifts? Why or why not? How have you utilized your talents and gifts? Do you intend to develop any strengths in the near future?
Trusting others is about trusting yourself!
"As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live." -Johann von Goethe German author (1749-1832)
In following this premise, it's important to realize that every time we choose to trust, we run a risk that our trust will be violated. When we choose to trust others, we do so with the expectation that our trust will be honored and well placed. We do not trust with the idea that negative surprises will result. Consequently, we need to also trust ourselves to deal effectively with the fallout that can occur when our trust is violated. Say that I choose to trust someone with a prized possession with the expectation that no harm will come to this prized possession. In this scenario, it turns out that the person to whom I entrusted this possession actually does, (intentionally or not) harm it in some way. This premise implies that I trust myself to handle this situation without losing control of myself or the situation. Yes, I probably will feel some anger, hurt and resentment - maybe even devastation - when that trust is violated. My emotions will be particularly strong if the trust was violated intentionally and willfully. But I trust myself not to retaliate in any way that will harm the violator physically, emotionally or ethically. Too often in today's world, we hear of incidents in the news where a person's trust was violated and the situation ended in harm or even death to the violator. This premise states that you will feel the emotions that come from having your trust violated, but that you will not lose control of your emotions to the degree that you harm that person or yourself. We will discuss this more in the last chapter in the discussion on Emotional Intelligence. It's important to realize that a person can get through the hurt and violation of a betrayal and come out on the other side as a stronger person.
Trusting yourself can also mean that you don't just "give" your trust to someone or some situation but that you also do your own research and gain your own understanding of the issue or person at hand. If you have a financial advisor who manages investments you have made, you don't just agree with all the recommendations that s/he makes, but you do research on both the topic and the person, so that you can feel self-confident in placing your trust in this financial advisor. The same is true of your doctor, lawyer, realtor, car repairman, contractor or whatever professional you choose to deal with. However, there are times when we must trust whomever we're dealing with - for instance, when we travel. We can choose to trust an airline pilot - or not fly, we can choose to trust a taxi driver - or drive ourselves, we can choose to trust a bus driver - or find some other way to get where we're going. When we trust a professional of any kind we recognize that this person has the knowledge and expertise in their given field. However, you also recognize that you have some responsibility when you choose to put your trust in that person. Some people feel that employing the services of a doctor, psychiatrist, counselor or other professional that can have a strong influence in their lives is the "luck of the draw." While that's possible, you can increase your chances of an effective relationship with any one of these professionals if you engage in research before making your selection. Research is so much easier in these times of technological advancement, but it's also important to check more than one source, as a single source cannot always be relied upon. And as stated above, if you are deceived or taken advantage of, you know that you can withstand whatever consequences come from the deception of dishonesty and retain your self-dignity. The idea is to learn from the experience and ensure that in the future, the same "trust" error is not repeated. In this way, growth and development occurs.
Conversely, there is the trust we feel and have for those who are close to us - family, friends and close associates. This trust is built over years and many experiences - both the happy and sad occasions, the good times as well as the trials and tribulations. Trust that is tested constantly over the years will naturally be much stronger than the trust that is expected of us in the majority of life's situations. In this type of "developed" trust, one tends to feel comfortable and secure, and those who experience it feel comfortable in their relationships. If this type of trust is violated it can become life shattering. The person who trusted is, of course, devastated often to the point where s/he questions himself or herself, and their ability to ever trust again. In my research in distributing the questionnaires, one of the questions I asked was "if someone violated your trust, would you ever trust that person again?" It is significant to note that almost one-third of the respondents indicated that under no circumstances would they ever trust that person again. We learn over time that trust is fragile; it may take a long time to build it, but for some people, one major violation can eradicate a lifetime of building trust. So trusting others is about trusting yourself - that you can handle any violation of the trust that you put in others with calmness and dignity and that you don't "blindly" trust others but do your own research if and when necessary.
"Only trust thyself, and another shall not betray thee." -William Penn Founder of the Colony of Pennsylvania (1644-1718)
You may wish to post your reflections or comments on www. trustontrial.com
Question: Think of a time when you trusted someone professionally.
Reflection: Did it work out well or were you disappointed? If disappointed, what, if anything, did you do about it? Was there a lesson to be learned?
Question: Can you think of a time when you had a "hunch" about trusting or distrusting someone or something?
Reflection: Did you go with your "hunch?" What was the result? If disappointed, how did you handle it?
Trust is about making a decision. One decides to trust.
"It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are." Roy Disney Co-Founder of Walt Disney Company (1893-1971)
This appears to be a self-evident statement .... or so it would seem. One of the respondents to a questionnaire indicated that he tended to rely on his "gut" feelings in trusting people and circumstances. He did not think of trusting his intuition as a decision but rather stated that it was a natural response that didn't involve a thinking process and that it was not a decision. I would advocate that it is a decision-making process made at the subconscious level effectively through a combination of experience, listening to one's instinct or intuition, and thinking through the situation. It's important to be aware of and realize that when trust is bestowed on someone, there is an internal decision being made, consciously or unconsciously, to allow this person to affect your life in some way, whether slightly or with great impact.
Trust cannot be just about going with our feelings if it is to be effective. Yes, there is much truth in "trusting your intuition," but we do this after gaining the understanding of what our intuition is and what it is telling us. Intuition is normally defined as a "keen and quick insight." Throughout our experiences we build a reservoir of knowledge or practical wisdom gained from what we have observed, encountered or undergone. We can think of our intuition as a "shortcut" that connects automatically to this knowledge or practical wisdom. Sometimes we are at a loss to explain why we just "know" something about which we feel strongly. When this happens, more than likely this "knowing" is our intuition kicking in. The 'keen and quick insight' can come out of nowhere and whether or not we trust it depends on how well we know ourselves and how well we trust ourselves (first two premises). After we've had many experiences with trusting this 'keen and quick insight' we are in a better position to interpret what it may mean to us and how to trust it. Understanding when the conditions are right for trusting and when more caution needs to be taken is very much a part of knowing yourself. After experience and intuition are well considered, the final analysis of whether to trust or not to trust becomes a decision we all must make. So even when one feels they just automatically trusted someone else, they really made a decision to trust at a subconscious level.
You may wish to post your reflections or comments on www. trustontrial.com
Question: What was the last trust decision you made?
Reflections: Did you make a quick decision to trust or did you really have to think it over? Did you know the person(s) involved very well? If an intuitional thought came quickly to your mind, did you ignore it or consider it? Did you feel comfortable with your decision to trust, once you made it? Why or why not?
Self-Confidence plays a major role in effective trust decisions.
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." -Eleanor Roosevelt First Lady of the United States (1884-1962)
This is yet another statement that seems self-evident; however, it merits further analysis. Of course, there is a strong connection to Premise #2 ... if one displays self-confidence then one is more likely to trust himself or herself and consequently more likely to make good decisions in trusting others. The premise implies that the better self-image one has, the more confidently one will create and pursue goals. Self-confidence can be defined as an awareness and belief in one's own potential. Therefore a lack of self-confidence can be described as an emphasis on one's limitations. A lack of self-confidence exhibits itself in many ways - shyness, timidity, guilt, anger, depression, self-doubt, paranoia, bragging, feelings of worthlessness, a false sense of humility, perfectionism, fear of change or making mistakes, and many more. People who suffer from paranoia will never make good "trust" decisions for they will trust no one, even when it would be important to trust a person or situation. There are many ways that people display a lack of self-confidence, such as being aggressive, being argumentative, engaging in negativity and self-deprecating statements and the like. The stronger one feels about one's own abilities, the better the decision-making process when deciding whom to trust or not to trust. And in relation to Premise #1, a person with self-confidence will quite likely be shaken if his/her trust is violated, but again will not lose control and cause harm in any way.
Excerpted from TRUST ON TRIAL by Cecile T. Massé Copyright © 2009 by Cecile T. Massé, Ph.D.. Excerpted by permission.
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Table of Contents
Chapter One The Trust Premises....................1
Chapter Two The Trust Factors....................14
Chapter Three A Personal Look At Trust....................38
Chapter Four Understanding Trust In Families....................53
Chapter Five Examining Trust In Organizations....................65
Chapter Six So What? Now What?....................81