It’s natural to conclude in today’s environment that the value of trust and truth-telling has been degraded to something approaching irrelevance. Lying, misleading, and distorting the facts are becoming normalized behaviours as a means to get what one wants.
Politicians in democratic societies have long been noted – and tolerated – for their passing acquaintance with the truth, but it seems now to be sinking to a new low as our leaders and their political parties manoeuvre for power and control. And the growth in social media platforms has offered up the perfect distribution network for spreading lies. As Mark Twain was credited with saying, "A lie can travel around the world and back again while the truth is lacing up its boots."
Yet, somewhat ironically, this disturbing trend is causing many to rediscover the true value of trust and integrity in our lives. By contrasting their own lifestyles and behaviours against the new “low,” people are recommitting to their core values and principles. Most of us want to be able to look in a mirror occasionally and like what we “see.” After all, life is a marathon and only fools would squander their integrity to gain a short-term gain or advantage.
So as a small business owner, what does this phenomenon mean for you and your business? How do you conduct business in a world where trust is being devalued? How do you manage relationships with customers, suppliers and employees in this environment?
Trust is the underlying currency of business. People generally want to develop long-term relationships with others they can trust and rely on. Behaving ethically demonstrates to your stakeholders that you deserve their trust. Trusting relationships provide the lubricant for conducting business and engaging employees in your vision and mission.
Here are some simple tips for building trust:
– Be truthful, even when it may not be to your advantage.
– Build “win-win” relationships that are mutually beneficial.
– Follow through on your commitments to others so they can depend on you. Be reliable.
– Be respectful of others (and their time).
– Demonstrate you can trust others – it’s a two-way street.
I leave you with a quote from one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time – Warren Buffett: “Trust is like the air we breathe – when it’s present, nobody really notices; when it’s absent, everybody notices.”
Ian MacFadden is co-founder and Partner of exitRITE Planning Services. His column appears the first Thursday of each month. You can reach Ian at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.exitrite.com