Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Trust Me

It seems many people in today's world want our trust. Politicians, salespeople, phone solicitors, TV news reporters, teenagers and a host of others pitch themselves as worthy of our confidence. "Trust me," they say, in an attempt to win us over. Once that switch is flipped and our allegiance is given, the other party has made an inroad into getting what it wants: politicians get our votes, salespeople get our money, phone solicitors get our order, TV news reporters get our attention, teenagers get our car keys -- and so on.

The old saw goes like this: "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." That seems to sum up our feelings about trusting others. For example, I went to a carnival once and was drawn into playing a "game of chance." Now it seemed as if the game was honest. It seemed as if there were actual winners. It seemed as if it was a minimal risk, so I indulged. It only took the game operator five minutes to relieve me of my discretionary funds. It took my wife less than three more to escort me away from the game before I dug deeper, still somehow sure the contest was basically honest.

These days I enjoy walking through casinos. I admire the architecture as I people watch and eat free hot dogs (at least in the better casinos). What I rarely do, however, is gamble. I simply don't run with feelings of greed and easy money anymore. I've learned to see beyond the mirage that promises a big payout for a tiny investment. I should thank the carnival guy for this, I suppose, but I'm still mad at him. Okay. I must confess: he did teach me a valuable lesson -- made even clearer by an astute wife.

A good friend often quotes this line: "Nothing puts a bad business out of business faster than good advertising." His point is good advertising can and does generate customers, but if the customers are lied to, cheated or have their expectations unmet -- they will stop coming. Furthermore, they tell everyone they know not to shop at that business. Needless to say, the business suffers greatly -- sometimes with irreparable damage being done.

It's easy to see how trust is broken in the political world. Most campaign promises are deemed null and void once the politician is warming a chair in his or her new office. I can be cynical here as I remember the days when a man's word was his bond. In other words, if a man promised something he would deliver. Even politicians back in the day would deliver on campaign promises.

These days, both the business and political worlds are often viewed with deep skepticism. And why shouldn't they be? They've earned our mistrust. But what about your own house? What would it take for your family to mistrust you? How many broken promises would it take before your children begin to question your word? (Just guessing here, but I would think you get like one shot at it.) How many burned dinners would it take for your wife not to trust when you will come home from work? (Again -- just guessing here -- but maybe two?) How many missed appointments, missed trips, missed outings and missed allowance raises before your word carries little to no weight at all?

Trust is a funny thing. It seems solid when you feel people believe what you say. But it's so easy to forget how painful it is when they don't -- and when their reason for not believing what you have to say is because you can't be trusted.

Trust needs to be constantly earned. Once trust is lost it seems it then takes an almost ridiculous amount of time and action before it is restored. Sometimes it never is.

Who do you trust? That's probably a pretty easy question to answer.

Now flip it over. Who trusts you? That's a more important question -- trust me.

1 comment :

The Layman said...

I met that same carnival dude when I must have been twenty one. didn't have much in my billfold at the moment .... so when I ran out of funds. I decided to go home and get some more money. On my way back to the carnival I took a good long swig off of my flask that I kept planted under the car seat to bolster my courage and sharpen my wits.

Instead a few minutes latter I "Wised-up" and to this day all I waste money on is an ocassional POWERBALL ticket? - which helps our educationa systems they declare :)