For a while now I have been using a free service called Freecycle – http://uk.freecycle.org/ - which is basically a way of off loading stuff you don’t want or asking for stuff you need, so long as no money changes hands. It’s been great. Currently I’ve got people taking away broken paving slabs from my garden, and I’ve picked up a yamaha electronic keyboard.
Each time I go through this transaction process I wonder at how trusting us freecyclers are about inviting strangers into our homes to pick up items or indeed, going into strangers homes ourselves. And then I feel sad that I even have this thought, that of course, why shouldn’t we trust each other. Of course there are cases where people have trusted and that trust has been breached. And this can happen even when someone is not a stranger to us.
A google search leads to plenty of material – academic and popular – on the concept of ‘swift trust’. This is the sort of trust that you have immediately in someone or something, and which can easily be broken through experience. It is interesting to reflect on what makes me, you, trust in one person over another, without any experience of that person. In a work context this awareness is important for helping us to understand why we may have difficulty building some relationships over others. And also what we need to know is whether our ‘swift trust’ assessments are pretty accurate or not. But then again, we need to be careful that other psychological biases do not lead us to ‘create’ evidence to prove our initial assessment!
Sometimes I can be distrustful, but generally err on the side of trusting. I usually find that the people I don’t trust are those that are trying hard to be trusted (networking events and sales situations are full of them).
So how do you view strangers at work, at home? How do your ‘swift trust’ assessment stack up?