How Can I Trust You When…?

“You say that you wanted to raise these concerns directly with me because we agreed to be upfront with each other.

But I know that you have been talking about it behind my back. How can I trust you?”

Is that scenario something that you can remotely relate to or is it a scene from a science fiction movie?

Trust is an essential ingredient of healthy team dynamics. We all know this and yet many of us still engage in trust busting behaviour.

Why do we risk breaching the trust when we know its negative impact?


We say negative things about others behind their backs because we feel we can get away with it. We tell our "confidants" things about people that we won't say to their faces and figure that it will not get back to the individuals.


In high trust environment, individuals are alerted to what is going on behind their backs and the purveyor of information is asked to go and share the feedback to the person's face.


We are socialized to be sensitive to the feelings of others. We refrain from saying things that might hurt their feelings.

This has prompted a tendency towards dissimulation. More accurately, we choose to live a lie rather than risk conflict.

Our socialization also includes precedence for downloading top of mind issues on a friend or colleague.

That ratchets up the vicious circle where we hide important feedback from individuals but share it with others.


"MISCHIEF" covers a multitude of behavioural sins. Jealousy, dislike arising from any number of factors, race, gender, age and the list goes on.

People say things behind our backs routinely. And what is being said is not always to put us in a good light. These are not necessarily glowing reports of how wonderful we are!



When you are invited to listen remember that your name is also on that very tongue. Direct them to give the feedback to the ears that should be hearing what they have to share.


Sometimes people spend much time in environments in which it is the norm to talk about people behind their backs in negative ways.

Help is needed.

You who know better could quietly pull individuals aside and share the negative effects of the practice on team dynamics and performance.

Explain the benefits of living in a high trust environment in which there can be frank exchanges without recrimination or guilt.


What if more of us made a consistent effort to seek out and accept feedback?

What if no matter how well we think a presentation went, we were still open to accepting feedback as to how we could tweak it for greater impact in the future?

What if our body language and expressions did not betray the fact that we did not appreciate the feedback?

One individual can make a difference – be that person!