你值得信任吗? / Are You Trustworthy?

你值得信任吗?

信任不是瓜果梨桃,不会从树上自己长出来。只有坚持谨慎行事,才能树立起值得信赖的声誉。

在一小部分人际关系中,信任是可以代代传承的,比如在一个幸福的家庭环境中。幼儿涉世之初会信任父母和其他亲属;从小地方搬到大城市的人会容易相信老乡;同学之间也存在着类似的信任关系。

除此之外,信任大多数情况下都不是白来的。

尽管赢得信任的过程十分漫长,但要毁掉它却只消片刻,而且一旦破坏就很难弥补。哪怕是强力胶水也无法粘合破碎的信任。

在急速变化、不确定和混沌的阶段,信任需要经受重压的考验。对信任他人,我们会变得更加谨慎和疑虑。但讽刺的是,这种时候信任才是越有分量的资产,以渡过难关,适应环境。

杰出的领导者拥有直面混沌的能力,但需要彼此信任的得力助手。

品牌专家可以运用分析工具对企业声誉及品牌的现金价值作出评估。但我从未听说其中任何一种工具能为个人的诚信度估值。

低估值得信赖程度的价值是不明智的。我常听企业经理们说不要和某某人做生意,因为他不值得信赖,但我从没听说某人会因为SAT或GMAT成绩太差就不能合作。

我们的教育体制强调考试成绩,或者说不能真实地反映出正规教育结束后所要面临的世界。年轻时,考试成绩相对比较重要。

但过了这段时期后,值得信赖的声誉才是更强大的让你脱颖而出的利器,也更能昭示出长期的成功。

想想你从不信任的人手里买过寿险吗?没有吧,就算他们通过了理财师的专业考试,你也不会这样做。

再想想你听过哪支冠军运动队的队员不信任队友或教练吗?也没有,因为互不信任对团队合作极具杀伤力。

对他人可信赖程度的观察带有一定的主观性,有可能被歪曲、放大,甚至被竞争对手恶意破坏。但日积月累,一个人总会留下些记录,可以让感兴趣的人(例如潜在雇主、合作伙伴等)看到。中下水平的可信任度会让你丧失很多机遇,甚至包括某些隐性的机会。

我们常常想不到自己的名声会传播得很远,能一直传到我们不认识也没接触过的地方和人群。但这并不意味着仅仅因为我们不自知,别人就不会了解我们。这个消息好坏参半,主要还是取决于自己的表现。

打造值得信赖的口碑,需要兑现承诺,承担错误,以诚为本,以及在传递坏消息时保持客观。

对个人而言,这是一个重要的战略决定,而不是像企业或品牌采取的某种战术决定。

信任与社会文化的形态紧密交织,对待与信任相关的可信赖行为的态度也会因空间和时间的改变而各不相同。

工作类型和职业也会带来差异,比如政客。谁能脱口说出任何国家10位靠谱政客的姓名?

过去有中国朋友曾提醒我不要聘请来自某些地区的员工,因为那儿的人大都不可靠。这让我觉得有点极端,所以湖北和东北的朋友大可放心,我根本没把这话往心里去。

也有其他中国朋友劝我不要太相信别人,因为在中国现今这个有点疯狂的发展阶段,弄不好就会被人“卖了”,这对我是个忠告。

前面提到,中国人更愿意相信老乡,特别是来自农村和小城市的人。这种“抱团儿”现象给了企业充分的理由,让他们避免在同一个部门招收太多来自同一地区的员工,尤其是在有金钱往来的部门。

十几年前,社会上对信任危机将阻碍中国未来电子商务的发展讨论得沸沸扬扬。这段历史现已作古,似乎在当下还会遭到耻笑,但它证明了事情的变化之快。

中国——或者其他地方——的电子商务能获得巨大成功,关键在于企业赢得了消费者的信任,也就是说首先要赢得信任,接下来还要兑现承诺。

在大多数行业,重复销售和回头客都是成功的黄金法则。这依赖于坚实的信任基础,也是企业和品牌声誉不可分割的组成部分。

对个人也是如此。个人和职业声誉是一笔极具价值的资产。

有些年轻的中国读者可能觉得这些都太“洋”,与当今中国社会的主体不相干。

他们觉得可信赖程度对最终的成功并不重要。在这儿我要奉劝一句,请20年后再回顾一下这个问题,看看自身经历将教会你什么。

我的忠告是,定下目标,树立自己值得信赖的名声。其中蕴含的价值具有普遍意义,也是很多中外商界、体育界精英所展现出的共性。

Are You Trustworthy?

Unlike apples and peaches, trust doesn’t grow on trees. A reputation for being worthy of peoples’ trust has to be built and developed through a consistent, mindful pattern of behavior.

In a handful of relationships, trust is inherited, such as in a happy family setting. Young children start life by trusting in their parents and other close relatives. Small town folk who move to the big city are relatively open to trusting people from the old neighborhood. Likewise with classmates.

Apart from a few examples like those, trust is mostly earned.

Although trust is earned slowly, it can be destroyed very quickly. Once broken, it’s difficult to repair. Even super glue doesn’t seem to work for putting trust back in place.

In periods of very rapid change, volatility and ambiguity, trust is subjected to a stress test. We tend to become more cautious and skeptical about trusting others. Ironically, these are times when trust can be an even bigger asset for survival and adaptation.

Great leaders possess the ability to face ambiguity fearlessly, but they need the support of capable people who trust them, and vice versa.

Brand experts have analytical techniques for evaluating the monetary value of corporate reputation and brands. I’ve never heard of any such metrics for putting a value on an individual’s trustworthiness.

It’s unwise to underestimate the value of being considered trustworthy. I’ve often heard business executives warn against doing business with “so-and-so” because of trust issues. I’ve never heard similar warnings because of “so-and-so’s” SAT or GMAT scores.

Our education system’s emphasis on test scores, in other words, is not necessarily a realistic reflection of the world we face after we finish the formal education process. Test scores are relatively important while we’re young.

Past this stage in life, however, a reputation for being trustworthy is an even more powerful differentiator and may be a better predictor of success in the long run.

Have you ever bought a life insurance policy from someone you didn’t trust? Not very likely, even if they passed the relevant professional exam for financial planners.

Have you ever heard of a great sports team whose team members didn’t trust each other, or their coach? I don’t think so. Low levels of mutual trust have a corrosive effect on teamwork.

Perceptions about someone’s trustworthiness are somewhat subjective. They are capable of being distorted, exaggerated by friends, or willfully damaged by rivals. Over time, however, one’s track record is established and can be checked by interested parties (potential employers, business partners, etc.). Having a sub-par reputation for trustworthiness will close off a lot of opportunities, including some which are invisible to you.

It’s easy to underestimate just how far our reputation can spread, reaching out to places and people we don’t know. Just because we don’t know them doesn’t mean they can’t find out about us. That can be good news, or bad news, depending on how we behave.

Cultivating a reputation for trustworthiness includes delivering on promises, being accountable when you’ve erred, taking honesty on board as a core value, and being an “honest broker” even when bad news needs to be delivered.

On a personal level, this is an important strategic decision, rather than a tactical one — just as it is with companies and brands.

Trust is heavily intertwined with a society’s cultural norms. Attitudes toward acceptable behaviors with regards to trust vary from place to place and time to time.

They also vary by job type and profession. For example, how many of us could quickly name 10 trustworthy politicians in any country?

I’ve had Chinese friends warn me against hiring people from certain parts of China because people from there tend to be tricky, and generally not trustworthy. That struck me as a bit extreme, so my friends from Hubei and Dongbei can relax. I didn’t take that advice to heart.

I’ve also had Chinese friends warn me against being too trusting in general, because in their estimation there’s too great a risk of being “burned” during this rather wild phase of China’s development. That struck me as good advice.

As mentioned earlier, Chinese people are more trusting of people from their home town. This is especially true of people from rural areas and smaller cities. Such loyal bonds are perceived as strong enough that management may purposely avoid putting too many people from the same home town in the same department, especially where finance is involved.

Ten or more years ago, a trust deficit in society was widely discussed as a potentially serious impediment to the future development of e-commerce in China. That’s ancient history and seems almost laughable now, but it demonstrates how quickly things can change.

The big success stories in e-commerce in China — or elsewhere — are dependent on companies earning the trust of consumers. That means first earning the trust, and then continuing to deliver on the promises.

In most businesses, repeat sales and returning customers are the gold standard of success. This depends on a solid foundation of trust, which is an integral part of corporate and brand reputation.

The same is true for individuals. Personal and professional reputation is an enormously valuable asset.

Some younger readers in China may think that this is all very “foreign” and not very relevant to large parts of Chinese society today.

They may think that being considered trustworthy is not that important to their ultimate success. I’d suggest they revisit this question in 20 years to see what their experience has taught them.

My advice would be to take aim at cultivating a reputation for being trustworthy. The underlying values are universal, and they are common denominators among successful leaders in business, sports and many other fields, in China and around the globe.


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