The One Big Cause of Distrust and its Effects
To understand how to create real trust, you first have to understand what causes distrust.
In one word: fear.
Test this yourself by reflecting on your own experience. When you distrusted someone, what fear did you have?
Some of the types of fear that are particular lethal to trust include:
- Fear of being taken advantage of
- Fear of physical harm
- Fear of being put in a disadvantageous position,
- Fear of being hurt financially, emotionally or physically
- Fear of insecurity,
- Fear of loss – control, territory, possessions.
- Fear of betrayal
- Fear of failure
- Fear of Rejection, Exclusion, or Reputational Damage
Trust and fear do not mutually co-exist, because fear rapidly drives out trust.
Fear is a dangerous force for any leader. Focused outward on a common threat, it can rally people together, such as when there is a destructive enemy threatening. But focused inward, fear will certainly destroy trust and teamwork from within.
Fear may engender certain standoffish respect, as one respects a rattlesnake, but begets not trust. The human species’ brain is not wired to trust what it fears.
Fear is dangerous, because it has a boomerang effect, returning, usually behind our backs, to hit us when we are least expecting it. In other words, triggering fear in one person usually reverberates as anger or revenge in some, and withdrawal and dejection in others. None of these are effective as a motivational or inspirational strategy. Stomping around, cussing, throwing temper tantrums, and threatening people is not an effective way to produce extraordinary and sustainable results.
While there are times when we, as business leaders, must use fear (such as in response to real threats, both internal and external), a great leader will, in the vast majority of cases, want to replace fear with trust.
The first thing I had to learn is that, at its most basic level, creating trust is first and foremost, about safety and security:
Trust is the confidence that I will not be harmed or diminished interacting with another person or group. It’s relying on the dependability, character, integrity or capability of some else or something.
If we don’t feel safe and secure, we will not trust. This is a good place to start our understanding of trust, but there’s much more to it, as we will see in the next blogs.