Stephen M. R. Covey wrote a very powerful book entitled “The Speed of Trust.” For the last eight years, his work, in many ways, is the “playbook" for Loyola New Orleans Student Affairs. Collectively and individually we return yearly to Covey’s principles of credibility and behavior. It’s a language we have become comfortable using to confront issues of credibility (integrity, intent, capabilities, and results) and behavior when they don’t match. For trust to deepen between colleagues and within the larger group, credibility and our behavior must match.
We do not get it right every time. We rarely fail each other with a credibility issue regarding intent, more often it is with behavior. We practice over and over again, owning the behavior, and it often means when our “emotional wake spills over” we apologize and aim to do better. Folks under stress often exhibit poor behavioral choices. We interrupt, speak over people, and choose to speak loudly, roll our eyes, clear our throats; glare and the list of poor choices grow. Covey writes, “You can’t talk yourself out of a problem that you’ve behaved yourself into—No, but you can behave yourself out of a problem you’ve behaved yourself into…and often faster than you think!” Trust is often restored quickly when an apology and desire to do better follow. No one is immune to bouts of bad behavior; it is human and forgivable.
When someone’s behavior and more importantly, intent, is to purposefully shame, embarrass or discredit another, then the breach of trust is far greater. It speaks volumes regarding a lack of self-trust and a lapse of personal integrity. It is never ok to use name-calling, which lacks character and competence. Covey believes the following, “Trust is a function of two things:character and competence. Character includes your integrity, your motive, and your intent with people. Competence includes your capabilities, your skills, your results, and your track record. Both are vital.”
Finally, Covey writes, “Simply put, trust means confidence. The opposite of trust—distrust—is suspicion. When you trust people, you have confidence in them—in their integrity and in their abilities. When you distrust people, you are suspicious of them—of their integrity, their agenda, their capabilities, or their track record.” Each of us has an opportunity every day to establish, restore and rebuild relationships which have the potential to foster a deeper level of trust. Whoever takes the first step establishes a renewed level of hope and optimism. And sometimes that first step is a gift – to the other person and to you.