COMMENTARY 886.1: The Truth About Trust

by Michael Josephson on June 27, 2014

in Choices, Commentaries, Leadership, Odds & Ends

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Everyone seems to understand the importance of trust. No one seems to doubt the vital role that  it plays in personal relationships, business and politics. We want to trust the people in our lives and we want them to trust us.

Trust is so hard to earn and so easy to lose. So why do so many trust seekers resort to short-sighted, seemingly instinctive, self-aggrandizing or self-protective strategies that are bound to damage or destroy this precious asset?

Perhaps no group is more at risk than politicians who explicitly ask us to trust them. History has proven over and over again how futile and self-defeating it is for a person in the media’s cross hairs to try to protect an uncomfortable truth with a bodyguard of lies and obfuscations.

Remember Herman Cain? This intelligent, dynamic man’s unexpected popularity as candidate for the Republican presidential nomination was based largely on the image he projected as a straight-talker.

But instead of confronting directly and honestly the facts surrounding allegations of improper conduct, he discredited himself with unsustainable denials and unconvincing verbal hair splitting.

Allegations alone can be damaging, but insincere, implausible and unbelievable claims and explanations only make things worse — much worse. When will politicians (and the rest of us) learn this simple maxim? When you are in a hole, stop digging.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Patrick A Toffler June 17, 2013 at 6:04 pm

To be worthy of trust, consistently demonstrate competence, character, and commitment. Make good decisions and take attendant actions (with courage in the face of adversity, uncertainty, and fear). Face failures honestly. Rudyard Kipling (IF): failure and success — treat those impostors just the same, with humility.

Respectfully, PAT


Brenda June 18, 2013 at 3:39 am

There are plenty of excellent examples and you pick Herman Cain in a hole?


Rochelle Perkins June 27, 2014 at 11:51 am

This is so true. Until those in power start being and showing truthful actions and responses, nothing will change.


Bob June 28, 2014 at 7:57 am

Gee, what a subtle essay–one might even say cautious. There seems to be a reluctance to cite a contemporaneous example of someone who is losing the public’s trust. Some men try to project the image of a courageous person who calls things as they are, but I’m thinking actions speak louder than words. That’s how you lose trust.


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