Thursday, April 14, 2005

One of my tasks at work this week is defining trust and explaining how it impacts work relationships.
The washing machine has arrived exactly on schedule and in its initial run, performs as advertised.
I am exchanging emails this week with my 3rd grade pen pal who I haven't corresponded with in the last 10 years nor seen in 30 years. I was surprised to hear from her but not really, she has a remarkable memory and even knows my family home mailing address still. She lives in MA. Oddly enough she knows a single man here in Portland, someone she had a crush on back in 3rd grade when we first met, and is volunteering to set us up. We already had the 3 degrees of separation relationship with my ex-husband's family because an aunt knew my penpal through their temple. If trust is something earned, then all those years of sharing our deep secrets and birthday wishes and school woes should count for a lot. But of course there is a difference between someone who knew you deeply as a child, then not at all as an adult.
I recently reviewed an article about men and friendship for my work, and one of the conversations it triggered was the difference between someone you grew up with, and someone you've met recently. It seemed several men had significantly higher levels of disclosure with a sibling or a high school/college buddy, as compared to a work friend or neighbor or in some cases even their spouse. I wonder if trust is differently earned between men and women... the degree to which competition affects that.
The point about trust in the workplace that I'm really tuning into is that besides the context of assumed competence and reliability, that trust is also directly related to whether I perceive that the other person has mutually serving motives, or if they are only looking out for themselves.
The other piece of this is the degree to which I'm willing to risk trust. At work, in my experience I've learned that it really has to be me looking out for me, because it's not my experience that almost anyone else will. On the other hand, I am willing to assume that the washer will do the things they say it will without 20 years of evidence to back it up, because my last washer was totally reliable. Willing to assume that I have something to gain by meeting my penpal's 3rd grade crush even if she doesn't know me well anymore, because, well.... ok because I'm desperate. Gees I have plenty of experience with bad dates and that still hasn't deterred me.

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