Arguments break trust, so build trust instead

Trust is an intimate and fragile thing, hard to build and easily broken. The most important aspect of trust turns out to be risk. Trust is directly linked to risk – the greater the risk in a relationship, the less we will see or have trust with that person. Yet the greater the trust we already have, the less risk we feel we have with them. Trust and risk.

So, looking at arguments. Arguing, debating, and disagreeing can be a very valuable process – we sometimes learn from a debate with someone, we sometimes see a different point of view when someone disagrees with us. But this is all dependent on actually listening to and hearing each other. The great failure of most interactions is that neither person is actually listening to the other. Why?

Arguing, fighting, disagreeing are all forms of hunting – they are experienced as aggressive, directive, even attacking. When we are faced with someone dismissing our point of view as wrong, minimizing what we are saying, not addressing our key information because they are focused only on their own ideas, we end up feeling threatened. When we are threatened, it triggers our Red Brain, and we reciprocate – we fight, disagree, dismiss and minimize the other person’s point of view, triggering or re-triggering their Red Brain. Pretty soon it’s all talk and no listening or learning.

Who would trust someone who just disagrees and fights with everything said? Trust is broken or eroded quickly.

One solution is to stop telling, stop giving people your answer, and ask them a few questions instead. Listen to them first. Understand their perspective. This engages their Blue Brain, which then engages your Blue Brain. And suddenly, you are having an intelligent, learning conversation. Take a read of this snippet from BrainFishing:

“BrainFishing Analysis: When you tell people the answer, at best you get compliance. When you ask people for their thoughts and input, you get commitment. You make full use of their knowledge and experience, while at the same time showing respect and deepening trust. Engaging people into the problem solving process benefits everyone involved” 1

Trust requires us to feel safe. We all feel safer when we are respected, listened to and understood. So, if you want to build trust, stop arguing with people. Listen. Ask questions. Understand. Build trust first. Then, when you have something to say back, they will listen to you. That is how we build trust.

BrainFishing, Chapter Two, page 72