The Culture of Mistrust

By Elaine Vitikainen

A client opened up to me about the difficulties she was having at work. She described, “During the coffee breaks in our team meetings, my boss frequently takes one of my colleagues to the corner and talk together in a low whisper. I was paranoid they were talking about me”. She went on to explain that although she had later found out that they were not in fact talking about her, but just gossiping in general, the damage had already been done. She admitted, “The real impact this has had is on me. I learned not to trust my colleagues.”

Trust is such a fragile commodity. It can easily be broken even before it is built. Yet we know trust is the foundation for healthy organisational behaviour.

This got me thinking about my own behaviour. When I’m in a situation where there is not much trust, I don’t want to put myself on the line. I hold back. As a result, I don’t bring my best ideas to a situation. As I reflected further I began to ask myself – how have I unintentionally contributed to organisational mistrust? When I go to work do my actions actively encourage trust or do they sometimes breed mistrust?

1 John 3:18 calls us to love with actions and in truth, not just with our mouth. As leaders, staff members and facilitators, our actions will speak much much louder than any fine words.

This week: What might I do a little bit differently to help trust nourish in the groups and organisations that I’m involved with?