Monday, March 01, 2004

The Four C's of Breaking Down Trust

Small, subtle remarks do more harm when it comes to shattering trust than anything else (see The Trust Building, May 27, 2003). They come in many forms, the four most destructive being Comparing, Complaining, Criticising and Competing. The first, Comparing is very subtle, for example putting others down so you look more powerful or needing to feel superior so in comparing someone else’s talents to yours in a specific way, you come out on top. What is more powerful? Negating someone else’s talents, or showing how their strengths mesh with yours, creating a stronger force, rather than a segmented weaker one?

Then there’s Complaining. Instead of working out a solution, one complains about another. “She’s never around when I need her”. “He never meets deadlines”. “I’m not sure what my boss wants and he’s never clear on instructions”. Trust is broken down systematically. Would you trust someone with a tight deadline or support if all you heard about that person are complaints? Could that person be reliable?

Criticism probably tops the heap on breaking down morale and team cohesiveness. It’s bad enough when the person is in the room and you knock them down. Even more damaging is criticizing them when they’re not there and can’t respond to the comments or show their value.

And last but never least is Competing. Healthy competition is a good thing and keeps everyone on their toes, but when it’s a rule of thumb and an organization promotes competition at every turn, the other three C’s come to play in a very destructive manner and you have a group of people working in secrecy. “Why share solutions or brainstorm when I can’t be on top?” Corporate loyalty goes down the drain and it becomes every man and woman for themselves.

What exactly are you afraid of? Strong cohesive teams have more power than the individual. To use an analogy, pointed out by Vista M. Kelly, “Snowflakes are one of nature’s most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together.”

Be mindful of how you speak of others. Do you build them up or knock them down and, if the latter, ask yourself why. You get what you expect of others. When you expect the worst and verbalise it, that's exactly what they'll give you. Is that what you want? And, alternatively, how would you feel if someone spoke of you that way?

Last night I was watching an interview with one of the cast of the TV show 'Friends'. Matt was talking of how they all stuck together as a group. One lobbied for the six of them to get the same salary. That would eliminate any competition and strengthen the relationships. When one was attacked in any way, they all walked off the set. No questions asked.

What resonates best within you? Watching your back or knowing without a doubt those around you are watching it for you?

Something to think about.

Donna Karlin

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