Friday, January 16, 2015

the three T words

Trust-Truthfulness-Transparency...or is it Truthfulness-Transparency-Trust...or is it Truthfulness-Trust-Transparency?  I was considering which one of these comes first and whether or not one actually does come before the others and which one was most important and...well, you get the idea.  These three "T" words are so important in developing a culture of openness and creating an environment in which people can do their best work.  It seems so easy to be open, honest and truthful - didn't our moms remind us to always tell the truth?  And yet, in an organization where there is little trust or transparency, it becomes difficult to tell the truth.  And if truth-telling is not rewarded (and maybe even punished), there will be no trust and people will hide their true selves from others.  So where does one begin?

In my world, I always begin with trust.  I know that the little voice in our heads says "I will trust you when you have earned it" but I have always been a renegade in this area.  I like to begin with GIVING TRUST which I believes allows people to be more truthful and transparent.  Because most of the world makes others earn trust, giving trust is new to people and often they are unsure how to act.  It has been fun in my career to watch people quickly let down their guard and become more transparent once they realize they have been given trust.  At that moment the conversation changes, the relationship deepens, and the commitment increases.  It does not take long for trust to be developed on both sides of the table.

On the other hand, when I give trust, I expect transparency and truthfulness from the other person.  I give trust so that they can trust me as well, which allows them to be transparent and truthful with me (and with the organization at large).  When someone is not truthful with me, trust is quickly broken and the relationship becomes damaged. I think the reason these three words are so important to me is because they are about establishing and building a relationship - and they are VERY personal.  Neither word can really exist without the other two in any relationship, be it at the workplace or at home.

Finally, I have come to understand that for some people (maybe many people) trust is very difficult to give or to receive because of past life experiences.  Because relationships are so personal, if one has been hurt through a breech of trust, transparency or truthfulness, it is not easy to be trusting, truthful,or transparent with others.  It is my hope that an organization that has a culture of trust, transparency, and truthfulness might be a place of healing for people where they will see a different type of behavior that allows for healthy relationships to be established and built...and that can make all the difference in the world.

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