The Trouble with Trust
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The Trouble with Trust

The Dynamics of Interpersonal Trust Building

Frédérique Six

The Trouble with Trust poses the question: if trust is considered to be important for successful cooperation, why don't high-trust work relationships predominate? Part of the explanation, the author argues, is that it is particularly difficult to build and maintain trust in work relations. This book addresses this problem by providing an in-depth, multi-level empirical analysis of the process by which trust builds up and breaks down in the interaction between people within organizations.
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Chapter 5: Building Interpersonal Trust

Frédérique Six


The previous chapter showed that interpersonal trust was built to significantly higher levels at Krauthammer than at Deerns and that Krauthammer had created an organizational context that was better at enhancing trust building than Deerns. This chapter examines whether actual behaviour as performed by Krauthammer employees is more conducive to trust building. Acting in ways that help build interpersonal trust implies acting in ways that send (unambiguously) positive relational signals, which was the third strategy for stabilizing normative frames. The first section examines which actions tend to be considered as trust-building actions and why, and the second section examines empirical results from the survey analysis. TRUST-BUILDING ACTIONS The actual behaviour of the two individuals involved in a relationship is crucial to whether trust can be built within that relationship or not. A trustenhancing organizational context stimulates and guides behaviour that will help build trust, but cannot guarantee such behaviour. The precarious nature of the normative frame implies that positive relational signals need to be sent regularly. Trust needs regular nurturing and will become depleted if not (the second characteristic of trust). Several authors have discussed actions that have been shown to help build interpersonal trust1 and this section examines these actions for their positive relational signal (see Table 5.1). A positive relational signal is behaviour that contributes to the well-being of the other individual who perceives it as an indication of the stability of the first individual’s normative frame. It is perceived to signal ‘other regard’ and will usually entail...

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