About a week ago, I happened upon this article by Randy Conley: Building Trust is a Skill and Here’s How to Learn It
The title just riled me up.
It felt manipulative, a trick learn-able by anyone needing to build trust. Something akin to the praise sandwich. You learn a technique and hey presto, you’re a wiz at building trust.
I could see hordes of managers flocking to this “Building Trust” course and coming out the other end letting loose their newly acquired trust building techniques upon their unsuspecting charges.
Eeks. That’s not what trust is or should be about. Is it?
Trust is grown by consistently acting in a trustworthy manner. Why would you need to be skillful in building trust? To get people to trust you? But if you are a trustworthy person, people would trust you, you wouldn’t need to work at it actively?
Is trustworthiness a trait or a skill?
Reading the article further I was relieved to find that the course is teaching what “Leading with Trust” feels goes into being trustworthy.
Being aware of what behaviors affect how trustworthy other people perceive you to be, is part of the self-awareness any coach, leader, therapist, manager should have.
For example being aware that taking on too much work, lowers your trustworthiness because you end up not delivering on what you promised, benefits both the “never say no” person and everybody around them. The desire to act more trustworthy may inspire them to say no more often and while that may not win them any popularity contests, it will certainly improve their standing as someone you can rely on. Someone you can trust to be true to their word.
The ability to put people at ease, to connect with them, to gain their trust is an essential skill (yikes I said it) in many professions. Coaches wouldn’t be able to function without that skill.
So why does it still feel wrong to talk about building trust as a skill?
Because building trust shouldn’t be the goal.
Being trustworthy should be the goal.
Making “building trust” the goal, opens it up for being abused and misappropriated.
That’s why “building trust is a skill” feels wrong to me.