Archive for July, 2023



Last week we published the summer issue of TRUST! Magazine. It includes 14 essays on our current ” state of trust.” These are some thoughts from the authors.

Trust in Turbulent Times: Interestingly, the etymology of “trust” is rooted in old Norse and English words meaning “strength” or “to make safe and strong.” In times like these, we crave leaders who will keep us safe and make us strong. Bart Alexander

The Formula for Building Trust: If it feels like your world isn’t going ‘round right now, or it’s going slower than you’d like, I recommend looking at trust first. The reality is, that low trust is almost always the root of the problem — or the most impeding barrier to the solution. Stephen M.R. Covey

Trust & Commerce: Trustworthiness is a vital component of every corporate interaction. It is the lubrication of commerce. Without trust in the organization, the company will ultimately cease functioning effectively or efficiently. Dr. James Gregory

The Trust Landscape: Couple decreasing trust with what we know about what we do when we distrust others and we have the makings of a slow-moving disaster. Unless we start turning this ship around we will see diminishing cooperation with increasing polarization, more balkanization in politics and society, less willingness to talk things out as people pull back from those they distrust. Charles Feltman

The Business Case for Trust: Contrary to what many executives are lead to believe, trust is not a “soft” skill. In fact in today’s challenging business environment it may mean the difference between survival and failure. Barbara Brooks Kimmel

The Margin of Trust: America’s corporate governance systems also make it difficult for boards to set the tone of a trust-based corporate culture. In the name of “accountability,” the system has veered from principles and tailored approaches towards mandatory rules and standardized practices for all. Lawrence A. Cunningham

Risk & Trust: Things go wrong when institutional trust is based on rules intended to rein in personal freedom and autonomy, implying that forced compliance creates more institutional trust than the personal trust it displaces. This way of thinking usually doesn’t end well. Charles H. Green

Trust & Governance: The smooth functioning of an organization therefore relies on an assumption of regularity. That, in turn, relies on two “trust” factors. First, that the people involved can trust each other and, second, that the corporate governance system itself is trustworthy. Jon Lukomnik & Rick Funston 

Ethical Leadership & Trust: Most core values are a set of ideas thought up on a management golf outing, brought in on the back of a clubhouse napkin, then printed and posted without another word being spoken. The values and ideals of a business are what employees and others bring to work every day. James Lukaszewski

Sustainability Reporting & Trust: If trust is the purpose, then what you intend to do is as relevant as what you have done. Publicly committing to multi-year targets is a must for credible sustainability reporting. Elaine Cohen

Trust in Healthcare: Lack of trust creates a situation that creates the propensity to misinformation. At the same time, misinformation can create a negative trust reset. Jan Berger

Technology & Trust: As of November 2022, we have over 8 billion people sharing our precious planet earth. It makes sense to continue debating and researching trust between humans both individually and organizationally. At the same time, we urgently need to focus on the trustworthiness of technology. Our very survival as a species may depend on it. Helen Gould

Trust in Media: Ultimately what’s needed is changing the culture of how news is produced and what journalists are expected to do on a regular basis. We are talking about updating a system that, when you look at the format and expectations, hasn’t evolved since it started. Lynn Walsh

Trusting Artificial Intelligence: While Chat GPT may have the potential to revolutionize industries, the response to my original question reads like a primer on trust research with little to no information on trust in practice. Barbara Brooks Kimmel

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 Are you building a family foundation of trust? Have you taught your kids about trust? If you are like most parents, the answer is “No.” Yet the family is where trust training begins.

You might say “Trust cannot be taught. It’s something we take for granted, always assuming it is present.” In reality, trust is a learned competence. As Stephen M.R. Covey reminds us ,”It is something that you can get good at, something you can measure and improve, something for which you can “move the needle.”

Sadly, mistrust is also a learned behavior.

An infant’s psychosocial development begins with the trust versus mistrust stage according to psychologist Erik Erikson’s theory. Beginning at birth and lasting until your child is around 18 months old, it is the most important period of your child’s life, as it shapes their view of the world as well as their overall personality.

Children raised by consistently unreliable, unpredictable parents who fail to meet these basic needs eventually develop an overall sense of mistrust. Murphy G, Peters K, Wilkes L, Jackson D. Childhood parental mental illness: Living with fear and mistrust.

Mistrust can cause children to become fearful, confused, and anxious, all of which make it difficult to form healthy relationships. This, in turn, can lead to poor social support, isolation, and loneliness.

Think about the trust impact on your kids when they hear you say the following at home:

  1. Children should be seen and not heard
  2. Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about
  3. Can’t you ever do anything right?
  4. Why can’t you be more like________?
  5. Do as I say, not as I do.

And these trust-busting words are just the tip of the iceberg. How about children learning trust/mistrust by example?

  1. Are you disrespectful to your spouse in the presence of your kids?
  2. Do you make yourself physically and emotionally available when family members and friends need you?
  3. Do you keep your word and your promises?
  4. Do you tell the truth?
  5. Do you act like a bully or insist on winning at all costs?
  6. Do you take the time to listen?

As children grow older, trust is further eroded in school when teachers abuse their power through verbal humiliation, yelling, and even bullying. And certainly on the ball fields by coaches who exhibit abusive and mistrustful behavior towards their athletes to attempt to ensure the “win.” Even your children’s friends can be a source of early lessons in trust and mistrust depending on their own family values and home environment. Whether you are a parent, a teacher or a coach, as Warren Bennis put it, “Leadership without mutual trust is a contradiction in terms.”

Have I convinced you that trust is a learned competence?

If asked today, what would your children say about your family’s values? Is trust one of them? The window of opportunity to teach you kids about trust closes quickly. Take the opportunity while you still can. If you are looking for a list of trust building behaviors, you may find this to be a good starting place.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is an author, speaker, product developer and global subject matter expert on trust and trustworthiness. Founder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World she is author of the award-winning Trust Inc., Strategies for Building Your Company’s Most Valuable Asset, Trust Inc., 52 Weeks of Activities and Inspirations for Building Workplace Trust and Trust Inc., a Guide for Boards & C-Suites. She majored in International Affairs (Lafayette College), and has an MBA (Baruch- City University of NY). Her expertise on trust has been cited in Harvard Business Review, Investor’s Business Daily, Thomson Reuters, BBC Radio, The Conference Board, Global Finance Magazine, Bank Director and Forbes, among others.