Radical Trust

I want to change your life.

I’m going to suggest an experimental course of action for you. It will be difficult for multiple reasons. The first reason it will be difficult is because when you first hear the suggestion, your initial reaction will be to believe you already do it. You don’t.

Here is the suggestion: Just for a day, I want you to believe that everyone that’s speaking to you is telling you the literal truth.

Now, this is a suggestion for your personal and professional life, not political. Don’t watch the news or a politician’s speech and try this, you’ll go mad.

But for the people you interact with personally – your loved ones, your co-workers, etc. Give them your radical trust.

You might think you do this, but almost no one does. When someone is mad at their spouse, and the spouse says “I don’t know what I did wrong,” often your inclination is to hear that sentence as “I don’t agree with you that my behavior was blameworthy; rather I think you’re being over-sensitive.” That, of course, would be a terrible thing to say to someone who is mad at you if your intent was to get them to not be. So when you hear that in your mind, you get even madder – how dare they imply that! But just as an experiment, mind you, consider how you might react if instead what you heard was:

“I don’t know what I did wrong.”

Literally, without sarcasm or ulterior motive. If you truly believed them when they said that, you might soften a bit, realize that they angered or upset you without meaning to, and would genuinely be eager to change their behavior if they knew what hurt you. You might then tell them how you feel and why, and they could realize what they’d done, apologize, and not do it again now that they know how it made you feel.

Imagine someone under you at work comes to you and says “I’m having a little bit of difficulty with this task.” You might be quick to think “Here we go, they’re trying to get out of having to do something, they want me to do half or more of it, or maybe assign it to someone else, what a lazy jerk.” But what if instead you forced yourself to hear:

“I’m having a little bit of difficulty with this task.”

If you gave them your radical trust, you might realize that they’re very eager to perform well, and that it takes a good amount of character to admit when you’re having difficulty and approach a superior about it, and in fact it shows dedication to improvement. If you give them the benefit of your experience to learn from, they could master this task and be that much more valuable to you going forward.

People will sometimes, of course, give you reason not to trust them. But just for today, wipe that slate clean – in fact, cleaner than it’s ever been, even when you first met them. Make a conscious, deliberate effort to clear away your assumptions and biases, and give them your radical trust anew (or for the first time). Take everyone today at their literal word. Don’t read anything into anyone’s statements.

See what it does for you. See if it changes your interactions for the better. And if it does, as I believe it will, try it again tomorrow.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s