WRITING TO WIN: The Importance of Trust in the Workplace
by Royce Murcherson
Remember when you were a kid? When it came to what was good and what was bad, it was pretty clear. When you were good, there was ice cream in your future. When you were bad, it was off to the time out corner. It was never a case of either/or. Nowadays you’re all grown up. You’ve figured out that the rules can be bent at times for one reason or the other. And sometimes you’ve probably indulged because it was pretty harmless. Afterward, you may have felt a little uneasy about it, but ‘hey’ you tell yourself, no laws were broken, no harm no foul, right? These are the questions that create a feeling of uneasiness when you’re not sure you’ve made the right decision. It’s important to know because it’s a matter of ‘trust’. Losing ‘trust’ in the workplace is a ‘losing proposition’. Don’t go there.
Being trustworthy is the rock solid foundation of who you are in the present and how you will be perceived in the future.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE TRUSTWORTHY?
There are certain things that shouldn’t be done in the workplace. Things like plagiarizing, hiding information, exaggerating claims, copyright infringement, crossing cultural boundaries, and conflicts of interest. Avoiding this type of behavior is part of what it means to be an honest, upright employee.
Being trustworthy means you live by a set of principles that govern ethical human behavior. These principles can come down to beliefs such as treating others as you would want to be treated. These principles can also come down to intuition, some inner feeling or moral compass that helps you decide what is right and what is wrong. This is what it comes down too…this question…Am I trustworthy? Or simply, what is the right thing to do?
A sense of justice, individual rights, and understanding the consequences of your actions has much to do with your sense of right and wrong. And your sense of right and wrong will guide your choices in the workplace and will project the degree of your trustworthiness among your colleagues.
Weasels are by definition cunning and devious. You may find yourself in a location where situation and circumstance may affect how you understand the difference between right behavior and wrong behavior. This is the ‘grey zone, a place in which a person has the opportunity to circumvent definitions of right and wrong behavior. In other words, the meanings could change due to extenuating circumstances. You may find yourself thinking of ways to ‘go around’ or to ‘avoid’. Try not to find yourself in this position. It may feel like artful maneuvering when in fact you may be bending the rules to suit your own needs rather than those of your coworkers.
HERE ARE SOME GUIDELINES to Avoid ‘Weaseling-Out’
- Don’t evade responsibility. Do not back out of commitments. Cultivate cooperative behavior that benefits the group.
- Don’t be sneaky in your dealings, achieving success by underhanded methods.
- Don’t be cunning in order to advance selfish interests or hurt others.
- Don’t be evasive in your communication with others. Be straightforward.
- Don’t be intentionally vague or ambiguous in your conduct.
- Don’t be deceptive in your actions, misleading deliberately.
- Don’t be cowardly. Display confidence. Try to set a good example when dealing with tough issues.
For an expanded discussions on business writing and workplace etiquette, see my book:
Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that Gets Results. Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013
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