Sarah Sheard's Thoughts and Theories

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Two Kinds of Trust

There are two kinds of trust:

You can trust that someone means well (or doesn't) and
You can trust that someone is actually capable of doing something (or isn't).

For example, you can believe that a boss or employee plans to do something and will give it his or her best effort. (In contrast, you know other employees who will only go so far and then take shortcuts. Some bosses will just forget what they promised, and some are downright malicious and will backstab you to make you look bad, "take you down a notch," push their own agenda, or just think some other idea is better and they don't want to create a fuss by being honest with you about it.)

This type of trust is related to honesty and integrity.

Honesty means if someone said X happened, you know X really happened.
Integrity means if someone said they will make X happen in the future, you know they will move heaven and earth to make it happen.

The second kind of trust is related to skill. Is the person actually able to do what he or she intends to do?

"Mom, trust me, I can drive in this rain." Suppose you have a very solid, well rounded sixteen year old, but it's very late, and dark, and the child has less than a year of driving experience. Do you trust her? Sorry, no. It's not that you don't trust her honesty or integrity, it's that you don't trust her skill level.

I had a coworker who was always meant well, but I think he needed to be on Aricept. People with early signs of Alzheimer's disease don't even remember that they promised you something yesterday, so they don't have any idea that what they promise you today they won't remember tomorrow. I trusted his intentions completely, but his ability not at all.

You need a boss who you can trust both ways.

You need an employee who has honesty and integrity. Skills can be developed.

You need to demonstrate honesty and integrity to your children. Pay the higher "teenager" prices at the movie theater, even if your 13-year-old looks young. Your children are watching.

Sarah

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