That trust is difficult to gain but easy to lose is a fact I intellectually accept, have personally experienced, and daily remind myself about.
Recently, I perceived more clearly the slow pace with which trust is gained and the ease with which it is lost. During a class on Organisational Ethics, the tutor said, ‘We gain trust in drips, we lose trust in buckets.’ This made visualize a situation where I am making gains drip by drip, and experiencing losses in bucketfuls. It was sobering.
How Trust is Lost
When conduct does not align with character; when your walk does not match your talk, trust is lost, quicker than we gain it.
Whether on matters of great significance or issues of little import, it doesn’t matter what your intent is, trust is eroded when you fail to do what you promise.
Here are five simple things, I have experienced, that whittle away trust.
1. Showing Up Late: Failing to be in/on time for an appointment is one common way people waste trust. Each time you show up late trust gained flows away. ‘African time’ is a popular deception that blinds us to the unaffordable loss of trust, a currency you cannot do without.
2. Delaying Offered Help: It is said, justice delayed is justice denied. It can also be said that help delayed is help denied. If you agree to help, make good your commitment and help when it is most needed. Giving help later may be needless, or less helpful. Last week a colleague’s son shared a need. I agreed to help, but met the need five days later.
3. Making Empty Promises to Children: Adults, parents especially, agree to a child or children’s request, without the intention to grant it, just to get them off our backs, or get respite from their persistent nagging. This is a sure way to lose trust with the people who matter to us.
4. Failing to Deliver Offered Help: It is better by far not to promise help, than to offer it and fail to deliver it. Many times I have offered, or agreed to help my wife with a chore at home, only to ensure up not doing it. Another sure way to lose the trust of the person to matters to you. Have you ever agreed to help only to not help? Each time this happens trust is depleted.
5. Refusing to Own Up When Wrong: Most people agree no one is perfect. Yet most respond to mistakes and wrongs as if they are perfect. Owning up to wrongs is always easy, yet it is one sure way to build trust. You will find you are remembered more for being honest than for been wrong.
Loss of trust stifles progress. Since trust is gained in drips and lost in buckets, how can you make progress with one step forward ten steps backwards? Decide today to gain trust, drip by drip, by ensuring your words match your actions.
What will you add to these five?