Why Healthy Trust Is So Important In Times Of Crisis

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Why Healthy Trust Is So Important In Times Of Crisis

Trust appears to be in decline or in need of repair all around the world.

Whether it is on television newscasts, social media, radio broadcasts, or in national or regional newspapers, you're inundated with examples of damaged trust.

Surveys by opinion centers and business groups reflect a decline in trust, too.

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Whether that trust is in people, government representatives and agents, business leaders, public institutions, corporations, news media, or religious organizations is all relative.

How trust is damaged can vary in personal experience. From human error to organizational structures and processes, and even systemic causes.

Trust is more important than ever.

In this time of COVID-19, the importance of trust with yourself, your relationships, and even your workplace comes into sharp focus.

The Edelman Trust Barometer measures global levels of trust in business, government, non-government organizations (NGOs), and media, and it reported the highest levels of trust inequality in the public’s faith in these institutions since it began reporting on them 20 years ago.

In 2014, the Edelman Trust Barometer reported that “...less than one-fifth of the general public believes business leaders and government officials will tell the truth when confronted with a difficult issue,” and more recently in 2017 it reported its sharpest drop, year from year, in the public’s trust in these institutions.

Perhaps it's no surprise. In general, there is a sense that facts are manipulated or distorted. It seems that information is withheld and the truth is spun to advantage. Many have broken promises, covered up mistakes, and so on.

In this pandemic, trusting the wrong person and information can be lethal.

Trust can be compromised, damaged, or broken unintentionally or intentionally.

Flareups between people typically occur when deeply held beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors are challenged.

For example, one need only look at the issues surrounding immigration and refugees throughout Europe and the U.S., Brexit in the UK and Europe, and President Trump’s long-standing distant relationship with the truth — tragically so with COVID-19. 

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People crave trust. 

Naturally, these and other incidents of broken or damaged trust have led to more interest in building trust.

Trust is not a simple thing and can be seen from many perspectives in the relationships between people, organizations, and even nations.

How can damaged trust be repaired?

Given the breadth and width of damaged trust in these institutions, there's a need to turn your mind to how can damaged trust be repaired. For others, the conversation needs to be how to build and maintain trust on so many levels.

Start with yourself. 

To that end, no matter how you're affected by the current circumstances in your own environment, a starting point for building or repairing trust may be with yourself.

You need to ask yourself, “What have I done to contribute to the situation? What am I willing to start doing, stop doing, or continue to do to help bridge the trust chasm around me?”

You are not a passive participant in the journeys of your life and your communities. You are an active player. So, how do you remain an active player in building trust during this pandemic and beyond?

Making the best choices. 

Everything begins with you. Each one of us has the opportunity every day to make choices that positively impact those around us.

In a society, you are only one part of the equation, and your decisions impact those around you.

If you want to learn how to both build and inspire trust, then it must start by you making the decision every day to not only extend trust to those around you, but to be worthy of others' trust as well.

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Khwezi Mbolekwa, Ph.D., is a coach and consultant as well as the managing principal of Collaborative Leadership Works Inc., who wants to help you find your own voice in both your personal and workplace relationships. For more information on how he can help you, email him for a consultation.