Tag Archives: Trust

Calor Humano, Human Warmth

It used to be a regular occurrence, my phone would buzz an internal call and the receptionist would ask me if I could take a call from a customer who was distressed.  The caller needed someone else who wasn’t available, or had not been able to explain what was needed so the call was routed to me.


Unless I was due in a meeting, I would always take the call.  Even when I knew that I would not be able to immediately resolve the caller’s direct issue.  I could act in the service of this Spanish phrase, calor humano, and thereby begin to relieve the caller’s distress.

human warmth

First, I could listen and ask gentle probing questions to underscore to the caller that – as recorded voices in corporate voicemail loops like to assure us all – ‘their call was important to me’ in a truly meaningful manner.  Distressed people want to get the sense that their concerns are being listened to, and with these questions I could do so.  Together, the caller and I could clearly define their issue as well as the expectations for resolution – these acts didn’t require specific knowledge of the customer on my part to start on the path to resolution.


All that was really required on my part was an ability to convey empathic listening and identification of distress.  Plus a repetition of my understanding of the issue and enumeration of a follow up plan, or the next steps.


In all these types of calls in the years that I took them, I only had one person who was offended that I was not the right person to immediately resolve her issue.  Every single other person got off the call breathing more calmly and expectant of eventual positive results.  Because I offered human warmth specific to their moment of need.


© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations


Filed under Personal Growth, Work Life

Orienteering, Office Politics & Blind Trust

Some of us plan, others meander, and still others outright stumble along through our work life.  Depending on the stage of life we find ourselves, or the task we are engaged in, we may do some combination of these three things.  I decided that I just had to see if I could connect the dots between this story, 8 Drivers Blindly Followed GPS into Disaster and my blog theme.  Particularly since I just posted something about trust.


Certainly we can’t be expected to be expert at everything required to be successful in this complex modern life, so we must rely upon others to guide us at times.  The basic assumption should still be that we must stay clued in to whether the aid we have chosen is providing useful assistance; we must keep our own common sense engaged.


No device has yet been marketed that will provide step by step guidance through a work day in the office.  (I’m sure someone out there is working to create one.)  Therefore we must rely upon orienteering, dead-reckoning, the kindness of others – whatever local signposts seem to offer the best clues in negotiating our tasks, our co-workers, bosses, clients, etc.  Pick the wrong one and follow it too far past when common sense starts humming, then screaming warning and we end up in some lake or bog – or up a cherry tree.


orienteeringOrienteering relies upon a compass, a map and your own abilities to interpret all the signs.  What does the map translate into in your office – hopefully thoughtfully and clearly written protocols on best practices for your tasks?  (Check the date of the last update, or the creation date – well written but obsolete maps make for interesting gift wrap but not much more.  No date, well…)  And the compass would be the direction that you are given by the person passing out your tasks.  Then it is all yours to put it together and make something useful and sensible.


Everyone can get stuck pondering the validity of staying the course or bailing.  Think about these hapless folks the next time you find yourself wondering whether to question the prevailing direction or to follow it.


© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations

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Trust, Trusting, Trustworthy

Trust is one of those linchpin concepts that both unite and divide us because they are concrete and yet so subjective. We cannot easily operate above an individual level without a willingness to trust.  Yet it is one of those words that have almost lost their meaning due to overuse.


Each of us has more control over our own self (theoretically, should be literally) so I’ll start with the idea of being trustworthy.  How did we each learn what this concept means?  By being told, by watching others, by making mistakes that cost us the trust of others.  And by placing our trust in the wrong person or situation.


How much space came in between what you were told about trust and the actual actions of those who told you the meaning?  That space determined your own personal definition of being trustworthy and of the importance of trust.  At least in your early years, until you may have had cause to reevaluate the importance and meaning for yourself.


On the surface of it, in a group or pairing, we assume that we are all dealing with the same definition of the word trust.  But we forget how much weight experience gives to a definition; how it shapes, strengthens, or weakens various bits of the meaning until one person’s definition potentially has little resemblance to another’s.


But we use the same word, trust, and we assume that our opposite has the same general understanding and expectations of that word.  We build a relationship, a project, what have you on top of this expectation of understanding.  We are then either pleased or disappointed with the outcome of the actual event where we placed our trust, or were trusted based on a concept that we did not cross reference in meaning at the start.  We then can’t say that we properly placed or misplaced our trust, rather we didn’t mutually define what trust meant in that circumstance.


Books are written on this topic, I have read a few – articles, too.  I admit that this post is based more on my experience and whatever psychology that I have internalized.  I was a very open and trusting child – back to my remark on those spaces; because the people who taught me about the meaning of the word were very trustworthy.  As I went out into the world, I (painfully) learned to be cautiously trusting but stuck to my own ethic in respect to honoring my own standard to be trustworthy.  Taking care to explain my driving definition behind any participation, or promise to perform.


I have a strong belief in under-promise and over-perform as an effective method, while defining my intent and verifying that I understand the intent of my opposite or the group.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t still find myself disappointed in others, particularly if they prove themselves false.  Each time I ask myself if I should trust less, and each time I decide to stick to my own standard and not let it be affected by the shortcomings of a few.


I’ll end here, for now.  But this has been a broad stroke on overall trust – there are so many nuances.  Like knowing that you can trust someone in certain aspects, but not in others.  Perhaps I will return to this topic again in the future.

© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations

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