Thursday, July 2, 2009

Human Nature And Trust

In my last post, Basic Human Nature. Good or Bad?, I suggested that how we feel about this basic question can have enormous implications on our approach to client service and relationships in general.

In Edgar Schein's book Organizational Culture and Leadership, he describes values as "open to discussion", but core beliefs or "basic underlying assumptions" as non-negotiable. These are the assumptions we develop over time based on our experiences (ones we may not always espouse publicly), but they drive our behavior.

I encourage you to read the complete answers people have so generously contributed on LinkedIn. You'll find everything from, " My personal belief is that most people are basically bad" to "Basically human beings are GOOD." You'll also find the inbetween such as "Individual people, however, are neither good nor bad by nature, only by choice" or one of my favorites, "So if I had to choose a species I would choose being around dogs the truth is all in the tail wags!" Each makes their argument quite eloquently by the way.

So given our most basic assumptions about human nature, it leads us to the comment Ruth Seeley offered which reads in part, "The yin/yang symbol you've used to illustrate this post is very appropriate, I think. While I hate to take the simplistic 'dualism' approach, I have found that there are really only two approaches to trusting people: either you're a person who trusts everyone until they give you reason to do otherwise, or you're a person who trusts no one initially and makes everyone earn your trust."

In thinking about Ruth's response, I discovered these trust models by HR consultant Robert Fisher which speak to her point:

As Robert sees it, people fall into one of four categories:
  1. Suspicious still. Don't ever trust anyone, even after they have done something nice.
  2. Suspicious until. Don't trust anyone until they prove themself.
  3. Trust until. Trust people until they screw up.
  4. Trust still. Trust people even after they make mistakes, sometimes even when they hurt you.
These trust models emerge from basic underlying assumptions we hold about people and their nature. You should ask yourself where you fall in this model, and based on your beliefs, how it impacts your approach to client service both positively and negatively.

Just a little food for thought for the long weekend! Enjoy!


  1. Leo,

    What a wonderful find.

    I wrote last week that "content is a commodity, clalrity is king". It is posts like this that actually help me because I get a framework that I can remember, reuse, and fit my thoughts into.

    What astounds me - and seems true - is the passage from belief to fact, and back to belief. I certainly believe that Apple macs are great and it would take a lot of evidence to deter me. I also believe in Jesus and it would *a lot* of evidence to deter me from Him.

    I'm retweeting this now!

  2. Thanks for the kind words and for the retweet! Have a great weekend!

    Recent blog:=- Human Nature And Trust



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