COMMENTARY 780.5: The Truth About Trust

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.

Herman Cain, an intelligent, dynamic man whose unexpected soaring popularity as candidate for the Republican presidential nomination was based largely on the image he projected as a straight-talker, is the most recent victim of this foolish strategy.

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

However damaging the underlying allegations are, insincere, implausible and unbelievable claims and explanations only make things worse — much worse. When will politicians (and the rest of us) learn the simple maxim: When you are in a hole, stop digging?

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that Character Counts!

Comments 4

  1. Bummer that you deviated into politics and ended your commentary with a negative. I expected you to focus on the positives of trust!

  2. Dear Michael;

    Herman Cain is an excellent example of what you describe, as is John Edwards, more recently–and prominently, in the public’s consciousness.

    It would have shown some extraordinary integrity and character had you included both examples, to disprove that silent conclusion some of us readers draw, that you believe the party you so tenaciously cling to is the paragon of integrity and character, and the other party is the very antithesis of same. This is coming from a registered Independent voter who occasionally sees integrity and valor–as well as insincerity and hypocrisy–in members and leaders of both parties.

    1. Interesting that you have such an accurate knowledge of the public’s conciousness. Hopefully your knowledge of this public extends beyond your own conciousness.

      What if we have three examples instead of one? Would we be tenaciously clinging to one of two parties?

  3. Michael, I agree.
    We trust others when they consistently demonstrate they are competent to do what they say they will and they display the character to do so in a good way. If we want to be trusted we must also manifest competence and character. The formula is straight-forward: seek to discover the truth, decide what is right, act accordingly. Trust is the foundation for success and happiness in all relationships and endeavors. So, being trustworthy is a worthy goal, worth striving for. All the best, Pat

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