The Projection and Failure of Trust

As the Landscape of Trust research progresses, i’m developing out frameworks and ideas for understanding how trust works, development activities to build trust in teams, and diagnosis of the underlying Landscape of Trust within an organisation. Today, i want to share a sketch that’s been taking shape in my mind for a few weeks: it deals with the mechanisms of development and failure of trust, and specifically the ways that we project expectation, in the form of frames, onto others.

How Trust Fails

This builds out of the narratives and description of how trust fails: people talk about the breaching of implicit rules. I thought we had trust, but it was never explicit, but now that you’ve done something to breach ‘our’ implicit rules, i trust you less. Or if you (accidentally) stay within the frame i’ve set, i trust you more. So here’s the model:

1. Projection – when we meet, we project a frame of trust onto the other person. This is influenced by culturally determined factors, such as ethnicity, age, dress, status, gender. This frame is both invisible, and imposed, without any insight or agreement from the other party.

2. Population – In the early stages, we populate that frame, and validate our assumptions.

3. Validation – In the third stage, colour is added and we fill out the detail. We validate or refute the frame.

4. Judgement – at some point, the frame is breached and either the implicit rules are justified, or breached.

5. Failure – as the rules are breached, we impose failure. We are let down.

Clearly there are a wide range of reasons why trust fails, but in this specific context, i’m interested in the ways that trust seems to be held in small subsets, in localised groups. Trust is not universal.

I’ll continue to #WorkOutLoud as i extend the research, and build out the interventions and thinking.

If you haven’t yet taken part in the Landscape of Trust research, you can do so here.

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
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12 Responses to The Projection and Failure of Trust

  1. paulhodgkin says:

    Thanks for another thought provoking piece on trust, Julian.
    Your model feels intuitively right. But the corollary that to build trust we should simply try and make our implicit rules explicit, doesn’t, it feels too simple.
    It feels more like we have to stumble across the implicit rules,and then struggle together to understand what’s going on, and that it is this process that builds lasting trust, as much as the implicit rules/expectations themselves.

    • julianstodd says:

      Yes, i think this is part of the story – it’s really my second attempt to explore the development piece (see the Triangle of Trust work too). I’m quite sure you are right that it’s only part of it. The ‘implicit rules’ come out strongly in the research, but i’m sure it’s a complex system, as everything related to ‘trust’ seems to be. I’ll continue to evolve this. Thanks for your support and comments Paul, best wishes, Julian

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