Yesterday, I took a phone call from a client who has a bank home under contract. Despite explaining the infeasibility of such an arrangement he was endeavoring to obtain a key to the house so he could come and go at will. It’s not like he wants to move in, he just wants to be able to take subcontractors in to get price quotes.
It’s a matter of trust. Or more accurately, lack of trust. He wants to be trusted with a key, but he wants to be able to keep his activities a secret; to do them on the sly.
It’s not that I don’t trust him, but I am unwilling to risk my license to violate the rules.
Trust is one of those things: you can’t just decide to trust and voila, it appears and holds you like a loving mom swaddling her newborn. So how is trust obtained? If it’s violated, either inadvertently or not, how is it re-established? I’m fairly certain it’s not like a broken bone – it isn’t stronger after it mends. Is it?
I don’t know the back story here and I’m not that interesting in understanding the underlying family dynamics, but it feels like a matter of trust; like this man wants to do his own reconnaissance without his son knowing what he is up to. He’s not disclosing his activities to the son and it feels like he doesn’t want me to be aware of them either.
Whenever it feels like something is being withheld, it creates suspicion and suspicion erodes trust. Why won’t the bank allow him full access? What are they hiding? (My response: it’s not personal. Don’t take it that way.) Transparency builds trust. Secrecy builds suspicion.
It pisses him off that the bank won’t allow him to have a key in advance (it’s actually in the contract). It violates the old school ways, and it’s hard for him to comprehend that from the bank’s perspective, it’s a liability issue. Not trust so much, but liability.
The problem, as I see it, is sometimes withholding is just a protective measure. In this case, the bank is protecting themselves legally. A lot of times, information is withheld because it would serve no purpose to disclose it. His son and I recently put an offer in on a property he felt was beyond their financial means to acquire. We never told him about the offer because we didn’t win the bid. Why create conflict where none existed over a moot point? Is failure to disclose a lie? Is it a secret? Does it matter?
Intuitively, I think most of us feel when something is being withheld. It creates mistrust. Something feels off. It can be a dangerous place to stand. My mistrust can create mistrust in you where none existed before. It’s the sort of thing that can spiral out of control and when it does, the results are rarely pretty.
I am remembering an incident here in Albuquerque of the shooting of a homeless man, James Boyd, who was camping illegally in the foothills. This video from the APD helmet cam shows the tension that exists between him and the cops, and how the mistrust ends up escalating into a tragic ending. It was five-hour incident. I’m not defending the actions of the police, but it is an example of what happens once the foundation is mistrust. (The video is 2 ½ hours – don’t feel like you need to watch the whole thing, but it shows a more comprehensive perspective than the 2 minute clip where they finally just shoot the guy. He died, BTW.)
Trust is essential in order to feel safe, yet once the presence of mistrust enters the equation, it’s hard to get to solid footing. You have to be willing to risk vulnerability. You have to be able to be exposed and know that it’s going to be all right. For myself, this is where faith comes in. This is where trust in God and the benevolence of the universe becomes a factor. I think that the issue that arises when dealing with God is the inability to see how it will work out.
Because isn’t trust really always a control issue?
We want to steer the outcome to where we want it to be. When we can’t see how that can happen, can’t tell how the pieces will fit, we feel out of control. We feel vulnerable.
Well, hello mistrust! Who let you in?
Full disclosure/complete transparency feels vulnerable. Like allowing ourselves to fall so head-over-heels in love that we will lose our ability to see clearly and make wise decisions. Total trust is surrendering to what is. It’s bigger than just individuals.
It’s a testament of faith.
All trust issues come from fear.
My job, when it comes to my clients, is to illuminate the underlying motives, to eliminate mistrust by creating compassion for the perspective. In the case of the bank, they are just covering their butts to mitigate any liability. For the dad, he’s just doing his own due diligence. For the son, I invite him to see it as less work for him to do to satisfy his father’s desire to feel safe and in control; not to take those actions personally when they are really just protective.
When we don’t tell the 4 year-old that there is no such thing as Santa Claus (at least not in the sense they believe), or the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy it isn’t because we are trying to sabotage the relationship. We aren’t trying to build suspicion (though you’ve got to wonder why the tykes ever trust us again once discovering the cover ups); we are protecting their innocence.
I have a friend who hides all kinds of things from her husband just because she is unwilling to face the argument that would ensue were she to share those details with him. Is it helpful? Harmful? When does it damage integrity to withhold information? What are your thoughts?
For myself, I prefer to surrender to what is and trust (God) that whatever is happening is what needs to happen. I prefer to surrender. It’s easier, in many ways.
Of course, it’s also scary as hell.
Namaste, my friends, Namaste.