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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Trustworthy?

What makes a trustworthy friend, family member, colleague, or leader?

This is an important issue to consider no matter where you stand in any group or organization.

Trustworthy means you can count on someone. You typically don't question their motives, actions, or response. You feel free to ask these people questions and debate responses. You trust that their intent, motives, and actions are well directed.

In general, I believe trustworthy people do the following:
  • Speak with respect
  • Share factual information (not hearsay or conjecture)
  • Listen actively
  • Provide rationale
  • Remain open to questions
  • Recognize that it's typically not one or the other who is right, but instead the combination of all.
  • Work transparently
  • Share regularly
  • Have the best interests of all in mind
The topic begs the question, Are you trustworthy? 

This is a challenging question because I bet that most of us will answer this with a yes and no since trustworthiness is challenged greatly throughout our development. We are born mostly trustworthy, but often the world around us may teach us ways that work in opposition to trustworthiness.

I can think of a few examples. 

First, if you fear asking questions or using your voice, you may discuss issues and make conjecture amongst colleagues or friends. That's not because you want to be untrustworthy, but you fear the consequences of honest questioning or share. Yet when this habit occurs, you become less trustworthy.

Next, the world changes quickly and so might your opinions. For example this morning as I listened to one politician after another speak about a political matter, I kept changing my mind about what I thought of the situation. As facts were revealed, my stance changed. If you're always changing your mind, you may be seen as untrustworthy, but if you're not open to changing your mind, you could be seen as untrustworthy too. There's a good balance here. One I'll think more about.

Sometimes children don't tell the truth and they do this to protect themselves or their family. A child may know that to reveal the truth would cause the child or family harm. This happens. Does this make a chid untrustworthy? I think not--it's much more complex than that. And when a child rarely tells the truth, there's usually a big story or need behind that, not a will to be untrustworthy. 

In general it's good to be open, honest, humble, transparent, and empathetic in your share and dealings with others. It's also good to provide the back story and rationale when you can too. This all leads to the reputation for being trustworthy, and the more that you can develop that in yourself and those you teach, the better off you and they will be. Onward.