I Punched Myself In the Nose

defiance-dreamstime_1117360-smallThe kid was much older than me and was the bully of the neighborhood, but I thought he was cool and wanted to please him. So, when he told me he wanted to see how strong I was I trusted him. When he told me to hold my palm up and make a fist, I trusted him. When he told me to pull up as hard as I could so he could test my strength, I trusted him. When he quickly pulled his hand away, I punched myself in the nose. I never trusted him again.

Trust is the foundation of all human relationships and is made more complicated when team members  are from different cultures. We’ll talk more about that in just a minute.

This series is about how do be a better multi-cultural leader. Part 1 was an introduction, Part 2 was about high-context and low-context communication.  Part 3 and Part 4 were about direct and indirect communication. Today I will talk about trust.

4 Things That Break Trust
Unfortunately, trust can take a long time to build and can be destroyed quickly in one instant. That is why we need to constantly keep in mind how to build and maintain trust among our co-workers. The following 4 things will quickly destroy trust and should be avoided at all costs.

1. Talking about others behind their backs (gossip.) Most people enjoy hearing juicy bits of gossip about others, but we always walk away with the thought, “What is he saying about ME when I am not around?” This will destroy trust. Don’t do it.

2. Not doing what you say you will (undependability.) Trust is built when we do what we will say we will do at the time we say we will do it. Not being dependable will break down trust. Don’t do it.

3. Giving false information (dishonesty.) Even when it comes to small things (“white lies” we call them in American culture), falsehoods never lead to trust. When someone is dishonest, even in a small thing, we always wonder, “What else is she lying to me about?” Dishonesty kills trust. Don’t do it.

4. Withholding information (secrecy.) The old adage says: knowledge is power. We’re wrong if we believe and practice that principle because it destroys trust in relationships. Withholding vital information hinders trust. Don’t do it.

Wow! Just NOT doing those 4 things can be really hard because of old, bad habits we have been practicing. I believe it’s important, though.

On top of that, building trust is even more difficult in a multi-cultural situation. We’ll look at that next time.

Question for discussion: Think of a time when trust was broken in a relationship you had. Was it because of one of the 4 trust-breakers mentioned above? Please post your thoughts and comments.

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