Remembering Trust and Ethics

Today one of our Governors was arrested.  One of the allegations was trying to sell the Senate seat of president-elect Obama for personal gain.  When I first heard the news this morning I was at first amazed and then a bit saddened for all the people that put their trust in this man, supported him, voted for him and got him elected Governor.

In their e-book Trust Economies: Investigation into the New ROI of the Web, the authors Chris Brogan and Julien Smith talk about how valuable the relationships we build are and how we need to vigorously protect these relationships (If you have not read this e-book, I would suggest you do.)  This is especially true about our web relationships.  But how easy are they to break?  In a virtual world where people seldom meet in real life, is that even possible.  Yes, it is.

At a recent conference I spoke about how important it is as a New Media Producer (which in today’s world can mean blogger, podcaster, videocaster, micro-blogger and more) to build relationships on-line and to be a part of a like minded community.  David Meerman Scott, author of “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” warns that it is easy to fall in love with you and your work on-line and even easier to fall out of love with you on-line.  The key thing that Brogan & Smith and Scott are trying to point out is the importance of trust.

It seems trust is hard to come by these days.  We are all a bit suspicious, cynical and wary.  We are often slow to “buy in” to new idea, plans and ways of doing things.  And on days like today, we tend to be a little less trustful than before.  But having said that, if we trust you, we almost rush to buy in.  So what are the building blocks of building trust and being someone that can be trusted?

Remember, mutual trust is a shared belief that you can depend on each other to achieve a common purpose. So how do you create mutual trust?  A trust that is sustainable?

  • Tell the truth.  Be someone who’s word can be trusted.
  • You cannot build mutual trust is you cannot listen.  A conversation is a relationship.
  • Share the credit and when in doubt, share the credit.
  • You cannot build mutual trust if you do not participate in the community.  Provide real value with your participation.
  • Ask for feedback, be willing to be wrong.
  • You cannot build mutual trust overnight.  Being trusted takes time to build, seconds to break.
  • When you say you will do something, do it.
  • You cannot build mutual trust without empathy.  Understanding others builds the bonds of trust.
  • Be transparent, let people get to know you.
  • Building trust takes personal time.  Nothing replaces the time you spend one on one with someone.
  • Building trust takes ethics.  Doing the right thing even when it is not popular.

Building trust and being trusted takes time, effort and commitment.  It is easy to say one thing yet do another.  It is easy to take shortcuts.  It is easy to use others for your personal gain.  But in the end, it is really a short sighted approach or as an old boss of mine used to say, “you are dead but just have not fallen over yet.”

On a day when one of our own Governors is arrested and a lengthy criminal complaint filed against him, isn’t this a perfect time to reflect on trust and ethics?

2 Responses

  1. David Meerman Scott Says:

    Excellent points. The Illinois governor situation is really sad. But heeding the excellent advice of people like Chris is what is needed. Thanks for mentioning my work. I appreciate it.

  2. Coach Hire Says:

    I really loved the post.

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