“Trust is good, control is better.” Many bosses still believe this. On the other hand, I hear from employees that they can no longer trust their closest colleagues. They tell me about nasty power games and insidiously bad behavior. Do we prefer to distrust rather than trust each other? Do men trust each other differently than women? What can bosses and colleagues do to strengthen mutual trust in the team? I spoke to The business psychologist, Trust Expert, and business coach Eva Schulte-Austum, who has been dealing with “trust” for years. She has conducted 350 interviews worldwide and studied trust research. In her book “Everyone Can Trust” she gives 9 recipes for more trust and fulfilling life.
To Eva (The Trust Expert), what is trust?
Eva Schulte-Austum: Trust is the willingness to give up control and to accept uncertainty. At the same time, we assume that our counterpart is not taking advantage of it. We therefore assume that he has a positive intention.
To Eva (The Trust Expert) – Is there a difference between trust in a private and professional context?
Eva Schulte-Austum: Basically, building trust in a private and professional context works according to the same mechanisms of action. We assess a person’s character and competence and then decide whether we trust him.
Character includes qualities such as honesty, respect, support or secrecy. We trust those who are benevolent and act with integrity. Competency, however, includes aspects such as knowledge, experience and results. They serve as an indication of whether someone has the skills to meet our expectations.
It is interesting that if someone disappoints us because they do not know better or lack the necessary experience, we will forgive them relatively quickly. On the other hand, if our counterpart disappoints us for selfish reasons, let’s not forget that quickly. Character strength is therefore more important for building and maintaining trust than professional competence. This applies in both the private and professional context.
To Eva (The Trust Expert) – Why is a trusting relationship between colleagues so important?
Eva Schulte-Austum: Where there is trust, a team wins something that can neither be demanded nor forced: loyalty. Loyalty to a person, especially when it becomes difficult. The support of the colleague who is currently going under. Standing up for each other when someone on the team is in trouble. Commitment to tasks that do not fall within your own area of responsibility.
Research also shows that teams that are based on mutual trust work more productively. The employees are healthier, more relaxed and happier. They are significantly less sick, suffer less from stress and are more satisfied with their jobs. This not only benefits every single employee, but the entire team.
New employees are often viewed with skepticism in the team. Do we distrust in the job rather than trust?
Eva Schulte-Austum: This is actually the case in Germany. In Germany, people have a greater need for security than in other countries, such as Sweden, Switzerland or Vietnam. In Germany, people are generally more skeptical than elsewhere – also towards new colleagues.
An essential reason for this are myths of trust, so-called half-truths about trust, which persist in our minds. The top 3 in the job are: “Trust is good. Control is better. “,” Distrust protects me from bad experiences. “And” First of all, my counterpart has to earn trust. “Those who believe these half-truths are initially more skeptical and therefore less willing to trust people they haven’t yet knows.
The working world is getting faster and faster. Do we still have the time in the future to build trust with colleagues first?
Eva Schulte-Austum: In the future we will have less and less time to build up the necessary trust slowly over time. Our world of work is constantly changing. We need trust so that we can meet these challenges with confidence. Because only then are we ready to break new ground, to contribute to changes and to take risks. And that is essential to be successful in the future.
The good news: Contrary to the assumptions “trust has to be earned” and “trust takes time”, trust can very quickly be built up. Research shows that whether we trust or not is above all a personal decision. This turns trust into a competence that can be learned and trained.
For managers in particular, whose main task in the future will be to manage good relationships – with customers, colleagues and employees – trust will become the necessary core competence. Because this ability affects not only their own, but also the success of the team and thus the entire company.
To Eva (The Trust Expert) – But how do you build trust quickly?
Eva Schulte-Austum: The fastest and most effective way to build trust is to do it in advance: the advance of trust. To make a conscious decision to trust the other person first – at least until they instruct us otherwise.
The skeptics among us may now shake their heads and think, “Well, if I fundamentally trust other people, then I will be disappointed quite often.” In fact, the opposite is true, as research shows: Whoever gives trust wisely , will have positive experiences in most cases.
The reason: trust obliges because it starts at a very sensitive point: our honor. No matter whether we want to win the trust of customers, colleagues or the boss. The fastest and most effective way to gain trust is to give it away yourself.
Honesty is very important to many employees. What does it have to do with trust?
Eva Schulte-Austum: Honesty is one of the most important characteristics to judge whether we can trust someone. It shows that someone is ready to tell the truth, even if they have to fear negative consequences. On the other hand, those who deliberately deceive others, lie, dramatize or play things down, we become suspicious and generally question what we can believe them at all.
However, honesty is not the same as honesty: the sound makes the music. Respectfully formulated feedback, for example in the form of honest and constructive criticism, can create trust. On the other hand, if honesty is used as a weapon, for example to hurt or expose others, it does the opposite.
Is trust really a question of gender? Do women trust themselves differently than men?
Eva Schulte-Austum: In fact, there is a small but measurable difference from a scientific point of view. Men base their trust in other people more on competence. They pay more attention to whether someone has the necessary experience, expertise and results.
Women, on the other hand, attach particular importance to strength of character, such as helpfulness, honesty, respect and secrecy. But for trust to really grow and develop, you need both: character and competence. And the sexes agree on that.
Many bosses are of the opinion “trust is good, control is better.” What do you tell them?
Eva Schulte-Austum: Neither trust nor control are good per se. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. We should therefore always ask how much trust and how much control is appropriate in the respective situation. An “either-or-thinking” does not do justice to a differentiated view.
Rather, it is about rethinking the right balance between trust and control, because only the right balance makes both effective. As a rule of thumb, weak trust thrives better in a controlled environment. Control now only requires deep trust.
What are the most important recipes for trust and what can managers and colleagues do in their day-to-day business to strengthen trust?
Eva Schulte-Austum: Whether we want to gain trust or want to be trusted ourselves – both are based on the same recipes. In my book, I present a total of nine prerequisites that ensure that we have successful and trusting relationships – professionally and privately. Here are my three most important trust tips for successful relationships:
Transparency – Make your own actions understandable and clarify mutual expectations. Misunderstandings can be easily avoided in this way.
Reliability – Be reliable in the long run. Only promise things that you can and want to keep. Empty promises permanently damage every relationship.
Sincerity – behave loyally and with integrity. Strengthen your back when it matters. Follow your own principles and values instead of just talking about them.
Eva Schulte-Austum , born 1985, is a business coach, speaker and author and lives in Münster. The business psychologist was fascinated by the subject of »trust« early on. For years she studied current research. She also traveled to the world’s most trusted countries and interviewed more than 350 people locally. For 10 years she has been supporting her clients in having better professional and private relationships in order to achieve more satisfaction and success. The trust expert shows her talent for conveying complex issues in an entertaining manner in lectures and seminars.