My Blog

By Helen Jamieson

Who to trust?

24 September

How trusting are you? Sometimes I meet people who are endlessly trusting and always ready to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. But I also meet plenty of others who trust no one at all.

On one memorable occasion a lady told me that she had been incubating her business idea for two years but that as a result of not even trusting her sisters or other family members, she had had no opportunity in all that time to discuss her plans with anyone. I felt so bad when I then had to tell her that whilst I loved her idea I just couldn’t see that there would be any profit in it.

But can you survive in business if you trust no one? Equally, you might ask, can you survive in business if you trust everyone?

For me it is a sad world if you don’t trust anyone around you. A lonely world too. I made a decision very early on in business that I would seek to trust business associates and employees rather than assume they were not trustworthy.

The upside of this is that I enjoy many genuine relationships with people who I have met along the way. It also appeals to my sense of fair play and a dislike of making unfounded judgements about other people. The downside of course is that in trusting you can leave both yourself and your business exposed to those who might take advantage.

If you choose to take the other approach, the upside of not trusting anyone is that your business is protected, the downside though is that you will probably severely restrict your circle of supporters and advisors. You might also struggle to enter into any satisfactory collaborations or partnerships with other organisations, particularly if you come from two different cultures, one of which is more trusting than the other.

So now some questions:

  1. Do you trust your fellow directors and employees?
  2. Do they trust you? (Think carefully before you answer!)
  3. Do you trust your suppliers? Do they trust you?
  4. How honest are you in business? Are you so honest that you have a reputation for honesty? Conversely do you have a reputation for dishonesty?
  5. In your opinion, is honesty in business a strength or weakness?
  6. If honesty is viewed by you as a strength, could you do business with another business that has a reputation for dishonest dealings? Equally, if you view honesty as a weakness, do you think you could ever have a successful collaboration with a business that values honesty in its relationships?
  7. Do men and women have similar attitudes to honesty? Do different cultures around the world have different attitudes?

Trust

The issue of trust (and honesty) is an important one. It can determine how you do business and who you do business with. Now you have answered the questions above, take some time to think through the business relationships you already have. Do any of your relationships suffer as a result of lack of trust, could any of your relationships be enhanced if you spent more time developing trust?

And finally, the biggest questions of them all. As you go forward, do you need to be more trusting of people or do you need to be less trusting in order to achieve the level of business you want to achieve?

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