Tag Archives: Trust

How Big is Your BUT?

Are You a Trustbuster?

The words we use and the way we use them tell the world a great deal about whom we really are, what we really mean to say and whether we’re to be trusted or busted.

Avoid these trustbusting traps:

  1. The Status Changer: Interjecting terms and phrases like, “Can we talk here” suggests that the speaker is awarding the listener a change in status, welcoming him or her into an inner circle of openness. Designed to bring us closer, the practice often puts us on guard because we were not aware we’d been on the outside to begin with.
  2. The Revealer: Be on the lookout for people that say, “To be honest with you”, “To tell you the truth”, “Truthfully”, “Honestly” or “Frankly”. Use of these phrases leave us rightly wondering… weren’t you being honest with me all along? Should I only consider what you say as truthful if you’ve specifically labeled it as honest?
  3. The Gut Puncher (Conjunctive & Extended Conditionality): The granddaddy of trustbusters is the hidden conjunctive whammy that links a positive or otherwise complimentary comment with the term BUT…followed by the real, less positive and generally less complimentary part of the message. While the comment may be factual, BUT-like presentations leave us wary of the speaker. We sense the emergence of a BUT long before it’s uttered, and stop listening to steady ourselves for the inevitable.

Extended-Conditional Gut Punchers use complete statements and then land their blows after the fact. You’ll know you’ve been Gut Punched when the new sentence starts with terms like Actually or However to frame out their real message.

I know all of our readers are honest to the core BUT I want to help keep you on the lookout for others with less integrity. Actually, to tell you the truth, I’d love to know how many trustbusters you mentally nab this weekend.

As always, I invite you to share your experiences and comments with me directly at jeff@jeffkaplan.com.

Stay connected,


The Dark Side of Trust…

Trust can be a vicious and manipulative weapon of control.

As much as I’ve researched and studied the importance, development and maintenance of trust in great relationships, I’ve only recently started to examine trust’s less attractive aspects.

Someone may grant you trust based on the belief that you will act in a certain way, even when they aren’t around—what I call conditional/behavioral trust. Without some careful consideration, this type of trust can be used as a form of control. And while there are certainly actions we are willing to assure others we won’t do, a healthier form of trust is a belief that another person is capable of making good decisions and has the best of intentions—without prescribing what those decisions might be.

When we meet a new colleague or personal friend, the world of possibility is open. We don’t really know anything about them and therefore don’t have any expectations about who they are or how they’ll behave. Their every action holds the possibility for surprise and delight.

Over time, we develop an idea of whom this person is and how they’ll act (which may or may not be accurate). Unknowingly, we created and applied an evaluative filter—an unspoken set of conditions for maintaining the trust we’ve granted. Because these expectations are implicit, they may not be aware of them, agree with them or feel it is any business of ours to begin with, and because we’ve already decided how they should behave, we’ve limited their ability to surprise or delight us in their actions. Do the right thing (in our eyes) and they are simply doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Stray from our conditions, and they’ve broken our trust.

Trust isn’t an agreement or contract; it’s a belief in the essential goodness of another human being. Humans by definition are imperfect and flawed, so be careful not to grant or accept conditional/behavioral trust as it holds the potential to dampen or even destroy an otherwise mutually rewarding relationship.

What to do/say and when to do/say it?

Executives, middle mangers and frontline personnel, across industries and boarders, ask me essentially the same two questions:

What do I do and when do I do it?

What do I say and when do I say it?

Creating personal and professional success boils down to getting these two questions right.

While your education, training, experience and skills many help you do and say some of the right things, getting what you desire often depends on one’s relational know-how.

Here are three basic relational preparedness tips:

  1. Curate the question: If you wait until the prize is offered you’ll be battling the pack. If you want an internship with the greatest company on earth next summer; identify people already working there this summer, engage with them now and position yourself as the obvious answer to the question they haven’t yet asked.
  2. People plan. Decisions aren’t made in a vacuum and vacuums don’t make decisions—people do! Align what you want with the wants and desires of the decision makers.
  3. Make human connections. Don’t just identify who is making the decision, find out who the decision marker IS as a person and connect with them on a personal level.

If these tips seem in anyway manipulative, you’ve missed the point.

The relational approach is not about falsely changing the minds of others, the approach is about truly changing the way you think about yourself and what you have to offer.

Doing your relational homework, knowing what motivates others and who they really are, can help you do/say what needs to be done/said and the insights you’ll need to do/say it at the right time.

Pleasure or Satisfaction?

This week I had the opportunity to speak to a group of senior executives at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas.  Since my keynote opened the session yesterday, I was able to sit back this morning and enjoy the talk presented by David Horsager, author of The Trust Edge. David’s speech threw a broad net across the trust topic but one of his observations really hit home.

David’s advice?

“Seek satisfaction, not pleasure!”

He offered two practical examples:

  • Seven scoops of ice cream would be pleasurable, but you wouldn’t feel satisfied if you ate them.  
  • You may not want to go to the gym and work out, but you would feel better afterward if you did. Even though it may not be pleasurable, it would generate health satisfaction.

Can you think of any other examples that support or refute the “satisfaction over pleasure” principal?