Unity and trust go hand in hand. We can’t have one without the other. And one of the most difficult barriers humans can face is the ability to trust others.
The basic fundamentals of trust can be found embedded in the development of our personalities. As an individual’s personality is generally fixed by the age of 30, these attributes are not so easily changed. We must embrace all of our behaviors, both good and bad, to celebrate those that make us stronger and work on the ones that may have debilitating effects on our interpersonal relationships.
Psychologists have shown that individuals vary widely in how well adjusted they are. Like risk tolerance, this aspect of personality affects the amount of time people need to build trust. Well-adjusted people are comfortable with themselves and see the world as a generally benign place. Their high levels of confidence often make them quick to trust, because they believe that nothing bad will happen to them. People who are poorly adjusted, by contrast, tend to see many threats in the world, and so they carry more anxiety into every situation. These people take longer to get to a position of comfort and trust, regardless of the trustee. (The Decision to Trust: Harvard Business Review 2006)
Situational factors are what we can work on to build our relationships and our ability to trust. We tend to more easily trust people who are similar in attributes to ourselves. The idea is to create a unifying culture, to move past these physical differences and align with a common goal that the entire group can get behind as one. This is easier said than done and sometimes requires a whole lot of work!
Mistrust may also come from the self-centered nature of the person with whom we are trying to place our trust in. Individuals think and act according to their own moral compass. If that compass is skewed in the eyes of others, then trust will not come so easily. What is important to one may not be as important to someone else. And even when the importance of the situation is identified, questions of how to balance multiple and sometimes competing interests arise. As with any relationship, work environment, or organization with more than two people, there will always be competing interests. Part of overcoming this situation is to be cognizant of the difficulties and dilemmas that others face. Constant, clear communication and total transparency is critical, taking all sides into consideration and factoring in ideas that may not reflect your own is just as important as well. When these elements are combined and provided in an anticipated way, unity and trust begin to grow.