Investing in Trust

Confucius observed, “If language is not in accordance with the truth of things, then affairs cannot be carried on to success.”

I talked to a man of conviction who runs a challenging organization. It is part of a bigger organization and he has a boss who is as assertive as he is. The two of them have each established a power base. So they tolerate each other.  Neither is going to go away soon.

Recently this man’s boss came to him with a proposal. It would have undermined years of work so this man rejected the proposal. They both left angry.

My friend said, “In the end I do not know what his words really meant. I do not know if he was telling the truth or simply raising a trial balloon. If I trusted the man and if he trusted me, we could have come up with a win-win. The truth is that we do not trust each other.”

For several weeks I have been haunted by these words. In organizations we lose billions of dollars and we destroy opportunity because we do not trust each other. Our “language is not in accordance with the truth of things” and “our affairs cannot be carried to success.” This is true at every level.

I believe that if I worked with these two men I could bring them to forgiveness and trust. In fact I think it would be quite doable. The problem is that there are tens of thousands of such dysfunctional relationships. If we invested heavily in building trust where conflict flourishes the return on invest would be staggering.

Reflection

Do I distrust anyone, what is the cost to the larger system?

Do I know how to transform conflict?

How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?

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