When trust gets personal

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Closeup of a mirror reflection of a woman's eye, selective focus

Do you trust yourself? If you do, what does it allow you to do? And if you don’t, what’s that stopping? Not just for you, but in the bigger picture?

I’ve been thinking about what trusting ourselves means because for the first time since I’ve adopted LinkedIn as my social medium of choice, not only have I had to block a contact, but report him.

The irony here is that that little sentence doesn’t even begin to convey the hoops I put myself through to get to the point where I reported him. It’s the hoops, and what they mean – to all of us – that lead to important questions about trust.

A man requested to connect with me on LinkedIn some months ago. He sent me a total of four private messages – he always initiated contact – and that was all the interaction we had. There was no public back-and-forth or engagement of any kind. But his four messages segued from professional, to cordial, to overly personal, and finally, to insulting. Because I didn’t communicate with him, and he wasn’t specifically responding to anything I had posted on LinkedIn, I have no idea what prompted the messages. I wouldn’t understand his behaviour even if someone did tell me what prompted them (and that’s pretty much the case for all of us when we are confronted with behaviour we wouldn’t engage in).

And so on to my decision to report this man. I’d like to say that I acted swiftly and decisively, but I didn’t. First, because I knew that reporting him could have serious consequences for him. But more significantly, because despite feeling that he had harassed and bullied me, I actually began to second-guess myself. He had been so subtle that I began to wonder whether I was imagining it. Was I making something out of nothing? Was I being overly sensitive? Would his messages have had a different meaning if he’d used emoticons? What if my so-called expertise at communications was all a sham and I just really don’t have a clue?

In the end, I took the messages to two people whose judgement I trust. Was I going nuts? The consensus was that no, I wasn’t, and yes, I should report this man to LinkedIn. The validation didn’t make me feel better, but it certainly made me ask myself some interesting questions.

The most interesting – and toughest – question was why I hadn’t trusted myself: my logic, my feelings, or my experience. It turns out that while I’m no stranger to self-trust, I’m not best buds with it, either.

That goes for many, if not most of us.

And we’re missing out.

Because self-trust is not only fundamental and vital to the way we operate as human beings, but it lays the foundation for how we operate as the human race.

Trust pyramid

Over the next few weeks I will be talking about the four levels of trust, and how to build on them step by step, beginning with the basics: self-trust. See you then, and in the meantime, begin to practice more of that self-trust, just like I have. Even if you’re not ready to be best buds with it yet, you can still go on a few dates, right?

See you next week!

 


 

Photo credit © Ammentorp via Depositphotos
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  1. […] Last week I introduced the idea of the trust pyramid, with self-trust at the base. There’s a reason: when we don’t trust ourselves, we don’t truly trust anyone, or anything, else. Trusting ourselves also means that when other people break our trust – and they will, if we’re actually out there, interacting with other fallible human beings – we hold firm: it may disappoint us, or even rock us to the core, but it won’t devastate us. But probably far more importantly, self-trust underlies the most important relationship we’ll ever have – the one with ourselves. […]