A few years ago, author Connie Cass cited an Associated Press poll showing that nearly two-thirds of the Americans in their sample had low trust in others – compared to only one-third in a similar poll forty years earlier. It’s easy to blame this on increasing urbanization, on the media’s “if it bleeds, it leads” approach to informing us about the world, on greater use of the internet with fewer face-to-face social interactions, or perhaps the increasing rancor of our politics has “tribalized” our society and set us against one another.
In my previous post [Ed. Note: see “How to Build Trust in a Low-Trust Era”], I suggested that trust was a key factor in helping people work more effectively and efficiently on teams. As formal or informal leaders, it’s our responsibility to help team members focus and move toward action in order to achieve a desired outcome. There are three basic ways that we can accomplish this: through the use of direct power, through manipulation, and by using interpersonal influence.