The Downside To Trust

July 1, 2017

Trust \’trəst \ n : assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.

Not just reliance, assured reliance. We know, we are sure, that someone or something is to be relied upon. Generally, this is a positive outcome of our interpersonal relationships, sometimes based on long experience. But can it also be detrimental?

In our professional lives, we are often called upon to trust someone without any evidence that the trust will be rewarded. In a musical setting, this may occur when a player has been asked to substitute in an ensemble on short notice; the regular members of the group are not familiar with his or her work and vice versa. What then? A fascinating thing occurs: they communicate with one another more intently than they might have otherwise. They must listen and watch with great intensity to assimilate information and react to it in the moment. Ideally, this heightened awareness creates a higher level of performance and excitement. When a new person, a new variable, enters the equation, we view our familiar surroundings with fresh senses. In the best-case scenario, if our new colleague brings much to inform our collaboration, we achieve that positive outcome – assured reliance.

In a team environment, trust may be in play at varying levels. A five-member team may have only three people who rely on one another very strongly. For example, five people may look at the same page of music but interpret it in vastly different ways; a new person may see an opportunity for a vastly different interpretation that others in an established group may not. Differing strengths, skill sets, or levels and types of experience in ourselves and our colleagues may cause the natural reaction to default to that with which we are most comfortable or have the most in common. In other words, we form cliques. Be willing to hear out and think through how others view data and arrive at their conclusions. Patience, humility and inquisitiveness are all key to a positive resolution, an equal level of trust, and assured reliance.

Some questions to ask yourself:

Has a familiar trust bred a sort of disconnect, or at the very least a comfort level that may stifle creativity and progress?

How do I engender trust as a leader? How can I develop it with my colleagues, old and new?

Am I open to interpretations that may run counter to my own? Do I trust these may be better than my own?

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