Lack of Self-trust as a Precursor for Distrusting Others

3 Truths About Self-trust

Posted Jan 27, 2012

The 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer confirms what most of us already know. The majority of people currently distrusts government, financial institutions, and business leaders. In fact, CEOs had the biggest drop in their trust level in the barometer's history, with only thirty-eight percent finding these leaders credible.

So, who do we trust in this era of growing cynicism? According to Edelman's findings, "As government officials and CEOs become less a source of trusted information, people are once again turning to their peers."

As people seek trusted sources of information, not from their institutions or organizational leaders, but from their peers, they're moving away from institutional trust toward individual trust.

But it's hard to trust at an individual level if you don't trust yourself.

Lack of self-trust can be the precursor of distrusting others.
In an increasingly complex world, our ability to judge real or not real, scam or opportunity, credible or not credible, trust or no trust, is a twenty-first century necessity. And it begins with self-trust.

Do you trust you?

Can you trust your motives, intentions, impulses, and judgment? Do you lie to yourself? Do you break promises you make to yourself? Can you count on you to deliver what you say you will? Are you in an authentic relationship with yourself? Do you trust your own judgment and the risks you take when giving trust?
Researchers have found that sharing physical traits with others creates a "perceived attitudinal similarity." We expect people who are like us (e.g. gender, race, hair color, etc.) to be like us.  So, if you break your word, you think that others will, too. If you over-promise and under-deliver, that's what you'll expect from others. But if you're trustworthy, you tend to assume others are, too.

Yet, while we may see each other as alike, we're very different. That's why building trusting relationships at work requires self-trust.

Practical Truths About Self-trust:

1.  Self-trust involves trusting your own intentions, motives and integrity. Self-trust includes reliance on self and confidence in self-actions. But it goes deeper. Self-trust is "the ability to trust oneself to trust wisely and authentically," according to authors Robert Solomon and Fernando Flores. Self-trust is grounded in self-awareness, well-intentioned and consistent behavior, and commitments honored and fulfilled. You're unlikely to be viewed by others as trustworthy, if you don't view yourself that way. And you're unlikely to view yourself that way, if you're not that way.

2.  Self-trust is a skill that fuels accountability. Self-trust grows when there is alignment between what you say and what you do, often referred to as behavioral integrity. Behavioral integrity is how you demonstrate your trustworthiness to yourself and to others. How's yours? No alignment - no credibility. No credibility - no self-trust. No self-trust - no accountability. Self-trust is the basic tenet of accountability. When we hold ourselves accountable for our actions, decisions, choices, words, and behaviors we build self-trust. Building self-trust requires a mirror. It means there's an self-initiated, account-giving relationship between who you say you are and who you are.

3.  Self-trust is core to the most important relationship - the one with self.
A practice of authentic self-trust offers a way to explore your possibilities, gifts, and passions. Self-trust grows the inner path. It aids the discovery of your life's potential. As author Jack R. Gibb put it, "Trust creates the flow and gentles the mind-body-spirit. When I trust myself I am able to enter fully into the process of discovering and creating who I am. When I trust my own inner process I am able to become what I am meant to become."

As societal distrust grows for established institutions, politicians, and business leaders, "a person like me" is now one of the most credible sources we listen to. If one of those people "like me" is you, grounded in self-trust, you'll become an influencer for rebuilding the trust deficit that plagues our workplaces and our communities.

As this dispersion of trust building influence moves from institutions to individuals, we have a unique opportunity to make a profound difference by using trust as our personal workplace currency.

Want more ideas on how to build authentic trust no matter your role? Check out these tips:

You'll find more trust building tips in my book, Hitting Your Stride: Your Work, Your Work.