Weekend Story- Paradox Of Trust
January 1, 2022
A couple of weeks back, I wrote about Five Paradoxes of our life, one of which was the paradox of trust. The more you don’t trust others, the more you will not be trusted. During a conversation with my son this morning, I mentioned the paradox of trust. Skeptical, he asked me to explain the contradiction in more detail. If one person does not trust the other, it is because the other person is not trustworthy. Perhaps it is because he is acting in a way that doesn’t build trust. Why would it be the fault of the first person? That was his underlying question.
Using a small story, I explained the paradox to him.
A young girl and a boy were playing together. The boy had a collection of marbles while the girl had a box of sweets. The boy with the marbles loved sweets, and he wanted to get his hands on the box of sweets that the other kid had with her. So he proposed to the girl, “I have this box of marbles. I’ll give it to you in exchange for your box of sweets.”.
The girl loved the idea and readily agreed to give up her box of sweets for the chance to own a box of marbles. Unbeknownst to the girl, the boy took out two attractive marbles from the box and gave only the smaller ones. The girl gave him all of her sweets as she promised.
The girl slept peacefully that night. However, the boy couldn’t sleep because he kept wondering if the girl had hidden some sweets from him like he had hidden the best marbles. The boy wasn’t trusting the girl because of his own behavior. While the girl was unaware of what the boy had done and didn’t care, his conscience was aware of what he had done. To protect himself from his own sense of guilt, the boy fabricated the possibility of the girl cheating him in the same way he cheated her. The basis for his distrust had nothing to do with the girl. Instead, it was the result of his own disingenuous actions.
You may have genuine reasons to distrust someone in particular. But, if you find yourself distrusting others in general, that is more likely a reflection of your untrustworthy behavior.
You are a manager, and you have this nagging feeling that your team is slacking. Very likely, you are slacking unbeknownst to your team, which is at the root of your lack of trust in your team.
Working in a team, you feel like there is a lot of politics and your teammates are conspiring against you. Most likely, you enjoy playing politics yourself.
Keep this simple mental model in mind when building trust in relationships.
The more you don’t trust others, the more likely it is a reflection of your own actions.