I was recently searching for images to signify trust for a presentation. I kept finding pictures of people shaking hands, images that included words like Integrity, consistency, dependability, and occasionally a picture of people doing a trust fall.
These images illustrate what we often get wrong about trust. The custom of shaking hands arose in medieval times as a way to check whether someone had something concealed up their sleeve. We’re starting from the assumption that people aren’t trustworthy. We look for data to supports that assumption and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. We become more guarded in the process.
If we approach trust as something that must be earned, we’re likely to be disappointed because guess what – most of us are human. We make mistakes, we have bad days.
Looking at those images and thinking about #BrenéBrown’s work on vulnerability, I realized why we love to lampoon and resist any effort to participate in something like the trust fall – and why it’s so powerful. It’s not catching someone that builds trust. Being willing to fall. Being vulnerable. That’s where trust is built. And boy do we hate being vulnerable, depending on others, needing to be caught.
If you have the courage and strength to be vulnerable – to trust someone else to catch you – you’ll be surprised how quickly they’ll come to trust you and how quickly that trust grows.