It can take years to build up trust and moments to lose it

Recently, four of the five graduates of the Flying Fruit Fly Circus performed in a show they devised that told the story of them leaving their homes in other parts of Australia to join the company acknowledged as Australia’s premier youth circus.

They said goodbye to friends and family, the people they love and trust, to make their way in another world.

Their parents also trusted that those in charge of the circus, The Flying Fruit Fly Circus School and Wodonga Senior Secondary College would ensure that the five adolescents were nurtured not only through their circus and academic endeavours, but also as young people making their way through some crucial years of their lives.

Joining them on the stage was one of the younger Fruities, humourously labelled ‘prop’, who as well as diverting the audience’s attention during a scene change was literally the fall guy.

Sent swinging, thrown about and sometimes standing tall on the shoulders of the only male member of the graduate group, you could tell this smaller boy had complete trust in the older one, but if something did go wrong, as it sometimes does, he would trust his co-performer again, or if he didn’t quite complete the routine, he would have the confidence to try again.

As I watched it reminded me of the relationship between a younger and older sibling, or a small child and parent where the expectation of trust is implicit.

Trust is based on four elements, consistency, compassion, communication and competency, but it’s not just a case of the four elements being present, because trust is an emotional as well as a logical act with a number of dimensions including predictability, a value exchange, delayed reciprocity where we give something now with the expectation of getting something in return at some stage in the future and even exposing our vulnerabilities because we trust the other person not to take advantage of them.

In public life and in business, trust can add or detract from the perceived value of a person, profession or brand, and each year the Reader’s Digest conducts polls into the level of trustworthiness of each of these.

When it comes to professions, the poll supports the anecdotal evidence; journalists, politicians and celebrities rate poorly, while paramedics, firefighters, pilots and rescue volunteers are in the top ten.

The most trusted people in Australia include comedians Charlie Pickering and our own Lauren Jackson who are streets ahead of our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard who came in at 97, just one place up from the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott and former cricketer, Shane Warne in last place at 100 – one more than his highest score in test cricket.

The older and more established brands including Colgate, Johnson and Johnson and Vegemite as well as the newer players in the marketplace including Nokia, Fischer & Paykel and Subway are the most trusted.

While most of these companies have large advertising budgets and reside in the front of the consumers’ minds, slick advertising wasn’t enough to earn them their place in the poll.

Respondents wanted companies to be to be true to their word, not take them for granted, respect their needs and desires and deliver on promises.

When describing why they believe these brands are trustworthy, they used terms including reliability, dependability and doing the right thing.

We’re often cynical about the person or company who asks us to trust them because we believe it is something to be earned.

But as Qantas discovered, it takes years to build up trust, but only seconds to destroy it.


About Robyne Young

Writer, creative writing teacher, editor, columnist. Literary lover. Short story collections, The Only Constant and The Basket and the Briefcase available via website.
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