The irrational things about trust

The obvious and rational equation is that being trustworthy plus being transparent will lead you to be trusted. Verification of trustworthiness should lead to trust.

This makes sense. Being trustworthy (acting in a way that’s worthy of trust) plus being transparent so that people can see your trustworthiness—this should be sufficient.

How then, do we explain that brands like Coke and Google are trusted? The recipe is secret, the algorithm is secret, and competitors like DuckDuckGo certainly act in a more trustworthy way.

In fact, trust often comes from something very different. It’s mostly about symbols, expectations and mystery.

Consider the relationship you might enter into if you need surgery. You trust this woman to cut you open, you’re putting your life in her hands… without the transparency of seeing all of her surgical statistics, interviewing all previous patients, evaluating her board scores.

Instead, we leap into surgery on the basis of the recommendation from one doctor, on how the office feels, on a few minutes of bedside manner. We walk away from surgery because of a surly receptionist, or a cold demeanor. 

The same is true for just about all the food we eat. Not only don’t we visit the slaughterhouse or the restaurant kitchen, we make an effort to avoid imagining that they even exist.

In most commercial and organizational engagements, trust is something we want and something we seek out, but we use the most basic semiotics and personal interactions to choose where to place our trust. And once the trust is broken, there’s almost no amount of transparency that will help us change our mind.

This is trust from ten thousand years ago, a hangover from a far less complex age when statistical data hadn’t been conceived of, when unearthing history was unheard of. But that’s now hard-wired into how we judge and are judged.

Quick test: Consider how much you trust Trump, or Clinton, Cruz or Sanders, Scalia or RBG. Is that trust based on transparency? On a rational analysis of public statements and private acts? Or is it more hunch-filled than that? What are the signals and tropes you rely on? Tone of voice? Posture? Appearance? Would more transparency change your mind about someone you trust? What about someone you don’t? (Here’s a fascinating story on that topic, reconstructed and revealed).

It turns out that we grab trust when we need it, and that rebuilding trust after it’s been torn is really quite difficult. Because our expectations (which weren’t based on actual data) were shown to be false.

Real trust (even in our modern culture) doesn’t always come from divulging, from providing more transparency, but from the actions that people take (or that we think they take) before our eyes. It comes from people who show up before they have to, who help us when they think no one is watching. It comes from people and organizations that play a role that we need them to play.

‘Still I Rise’ by Maya Angelou

When we aren’t confident about ourselves, we definitely can’t win anything in our life. Are you scorned, oppressed, and belittled? Want a little bit of confidence boost? Then the poem ‘Still I Rise’ by Maya Angelou is for you. 

People may picture you however they want. They may lie about you, spread rumors, and pull you down to gutters but you should never give in to such slanders. Even if they make you look dirty, like a dust which never settles down, you ought to rise. 

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

People, who talk ill about you, do so because they are blinded by petty emotions like jealousy and insecurity. They may not like you when you differ from the crowd and when you are being yourself while they cannot. You may find your happiness in small things and this might irritate them. So, they might try to bring down your confidence, even then you must rise. 

Why are you beset with gloom?

’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells

Pumping in my living room.

And, when you rise, rise like the sun or the moon, which rises everyday without fail with its fullest radiance. Like the tides which hit the shore with certainty and hope which springs higher in the darkest times, you too should rise. You know why you should rise? Simply because everyone is watching. They want to see you broken, shoulders fallen, heads down, kneeling and desperately crying at misfortunes. So, rise beyond expectations.

They may label you haughty when you differ and might be offended when you laugh happily. Even though they slander you, belittle, treat you indifferently and hatefully, you must rise like air which sees no confines. 

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.

They will be jealous and afraid of you rising, and so they will try to pull you down. But you must rise. People oppress others based on economic conditions, race, ancestry, and color. Even then you must rise. 

Out of the huts of history’s shame

I rise

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain

I rise

I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,

Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

The poetess was strongly fighting against the oppression of black people and women. People of her race were ill treated and subjugated. She, the black ocean, is resolute to send tides of opposition against such oppressions. Though she had suffered and lived painfully, she will march into daybreak, proud of her identity that her ancestors had given her, and will rise and rise and rise. 

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise

I rise

I rise.

Hence, never let yourself be held back by restraints and limitations. You are you and be confident about yourself. If you do so, you shall also rise.