Yesterday on a terrific yitan call where Jerry Michalski introduced his fabulous offering of the REXpedition (guide to the relationship economy), I developed a mind-crush on Nicole Lazzaro. I loved her contributions to the IRC channel, and I am now reading more about her work with play and gaming.
One question she posed on the IRC chat really tickled me. She asked, “Wonder whether having a common goals or values create trust or are required or catalyze it?”
Trust, being an elemental particle of collaboration, fascinates me. And sure there is something about sharing common goals or values can facilitate the development of trust. But I would not say it is required for trust. For example, some families are split between progressives and conservatives and speak to clearly different values and goals. However, because the family is enduring and blood can sometimes be thicker than politics, there can be a measure of trust present. Trust for what?
- Well, I may trust that my very conservative aunt is going to vote for a conservative.
- I don’t trust her to vote on my behalf.
- I trust her to watch my kids for an afternoon.
- I don’t trust her to raise them if something happens to me.
- I trust her real estate savvy, but I don’t trust her cooking.
- I trust her to act on her goals and values, as I have seen her do consistently for decades.
- I don’t trust her to give me advice on my career.
- And I don’t trust her as a working partner on a project.
Trust is very contextual.
When I know someone’s values and goals, it is easier to develop trust. I may not need as much consistency over time to make myself vulnerable to someone who shares my goals, values, or beliefs. Sometimes we make these intuitive judgments about how aligned we are with someone else at hyperspeed. I met AB through a friend, we share several interests that rely on a set of values, and I know his company shares stated goals with mine. We were talking like old friends after an hour. I don’t need years worth of consistency to have some measure of trust with him.
We tend to talk about trust as if it is an on/off switch. But it isn’t. It is something we have to a degree and within specific contexts. Sharing values or goals can facilitate the development of trust, but I am not convinced they are required.