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1% of Trust

Updated: Sep 10, 2019


It is not uncommon for most people to say, "I find it hard to trust others", or "I really need to get to know someone before I can trust them". However, I believe you inherently trust 99% of people without thinking twice about it. We have just learned to distrust the 1% of people closest to you. Don't believe me? When was the last time you -

Flew on a plane? You likely had no idea who the pilot was or credentials they had, yet you trusted they had both the training and experience to get you safely to your destination.

Drove a car? Each time you drive, you trust that the hundreds of other people driving around you are also following the rules of the road (or at least that they won't run into you because they don't understand what a turn signal is for) so it isn't a complete nightmare getting from place to place.

Used electricity or water? You don't consciously question worry about whether or not the utility companies received and processed your bill payment or if they are maintaining the infrastructure necessary for you to turn on the lights and use the bathroom - You just trust them to work since you paid your bill.

If that is the case, then who is it you don't trust? Surprisingly, it is your coworkers, your family, and your friends (at least not as easily and subconsciously as you trust people you don't know). When you go to a family reunion, you don't trust that Aunt Gertrude will be civil. At a party, you don't trust your best friend not to get hammered and puke in your car. At work, you don't trust a team member will do a good job and hit their numbers. We have been around people like them and have been in similar situations before, thus we think the best course of action is to not trust them first, making them earn our trust instead.

My belief is that this should be the other way around. Our default should be trust, questioning the results only if they have proven to be unreliable with that specific task. In the courts, it is innocent until proven guilty, but we take the opposite approach when deciding who to lean on. Think about some very common situations:

"My team's numbers are slacking. Nobody is doing their job." - This is likely you distrusting 99% of people based on the actions (or lack thereof) of the 1% of people who are actually not doing their jobs.

"I heard him say something not nice. He is just the worst person." - Chances are, you are distrusting the remaining 99% of someone's personality based on the 1% of them you actually know.

"I asked for more water ten minutes ago. This waitress is so unreliable." - Could it be you are distrusting 99% of what someone has already done for you based on 1% of what they haven't?

Often times, the only experiences you take into consideration when making decisions is the negative 1%, rather than the positive 99%. In order for society to exist, all necessary functions must operate both independently and in unison. The better society is working, the less you think about it, because it becomes so unquestionably reliable. You would never walk into a cake store and demand proof that their cakes are not disgusting. There simply wouldn't a store standing if the cakes were terrible, because people would buy a cake there one time, write a bad review, never go back, and the business would eventually fail. Instead, you walk into a cake store and automatically expect great service, decent price, and delicious cake.

The same must be applied to how we approach our coworkers. If I ask you to take on some work, I should expect you're going to deliver something great and it will be prioritized in whatever way is best for the company. We must learn to unlearn what we think we know of "trust". Respect your coworkers enough to trust them as much as you trust the cake man. Give them the benefit of the doubt and exhaust all other possibilities before deciding not to trust them, be it their work ethic or personality. If you trust your garbage man and mailman to do their jobs, you should trust your fellow coworkers to do theirs.


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