I participated in a meeting of Regional FBO's this week in South Africa. As we were wrestling with the enormous capacity of faith communities to influence change, and how we could stimulate this more effectively as regional partners there was a reflection from one of the participants that caused us all to stop and reflect. What does trust cost? In many parts of the world when people meet, they begin a process of relationship and trust building that is not around 'activity' but around discussion and shared experience and often very simple things like sharing fellowship over meals. This critical step in any relationship is never 'costed' by organisations who want to implement activities, but without it these efforts rarely out-last the funding that supports them. In the Constellation family, we put alot of time into 'relationship' and I think it is one of the ingredients of success. So, wherever you are in the world today, as you sit with family and neighbours or talk to those who want to support response....perhaps we can all reflect a bit more on 'What does Trust Cost? and are we willing to pay the price?

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Hi April and friends,

I have been thinking about your posting, while driving back on my motor-cycle from the area where we rock-climb...

For me `Trust` is really central in the Constellation`s approach. I even think that we could add Trust to the T of SALT. We trust people in responding to their life issues. We have trust that they have the capacity to reflect and act... We also trust our team members. We rely on each other like a family, even when we work for the first time together... This is my experience with coaches at least. What I find more difficult is to trust myself... which is probably the most important thing ;-)

What is trust? For me it is about non-judgement... When I think about my friends or family and why I trust them it is mainly because they accept me the way I am and do not judge me.
Now, I`d like to share with you the wisdom of Don Miguel Ruiz, who wrote the book The four agreements. He proposes four agreements to live in peace and harmony... or to create trust.
1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
2. Don't Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.
3. Don't Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

As a facilitator is it key to create an environment where people can start to trust each other. I don`t think that it has to cost a lot, except for time and skills... From experience, we see that when people have a common experience through a SALT visit for instance, it creates a special bond between them. During learning events, we often set 2h aside just to do the introduction of participants... this is important to create trust! (see the discussion about how to introduce participants)

What I find amazing is to see the trust between coaches (and facilitators) of the Constellation. Some I have never met. But I trust them... because in a way I know that they are doing their best to be SALTy. We share the same values. The same vision in life. And we do our best to live according to these values. So, in this case, trust costs almost nothing...

What do others think?

Dear April,
You have brought to the table a big issue that has many, many implications in our work and also in our lives. I think that trust, the building of trust, is so important that without it nothing can be firmly built and that is the big mistake that most organizations have been doing around the world: acting in the premise that "doing" is more important than "being".
But what does it mean to trust somebody? How do we know we trust or we are trusted?

For me, trusting is an attitude that can only be shown by practice, and that impregnates everything I do. It is not something that I have but something I work everyday. It is something that I cannot ask from anybody but I can just offer my own. Trust is twin sister with honesty, with my own feelings, intentions and acts.

In my experience, I see that some people think of trust as they do of love: it is something that happens to me instead of something that I can put in action. Some people live on the myth that you fall in love with someone and you trust someone apparently without any effort on either side (like in Walt Disney's distorted Fairy Tales). On the contrary, I think that trust is an exercise of one's will. It is not something that happens to you but something you exercise: you decide to trust someone or something, a process, for instance and then you must take care that your actions are in line with that decision.

Of course, including trust as part of our lives has an implication in terms of time and personal work which is not considered within the framework of "activity driven" projects. So I do not know if trust can be adequately "costed" per se, as I see it as part of a different approach to life, work and relation to oneself and others. Probably the way to have it included is through making it visibly stated as a value (and a goal), accepting that it will mean a different rythm in the process, a rythm that will not be orchestred by you. And in accepting this, then the cost of establishing a sound relationship with communities would be naturally included in the overall costs.

Again, that will mean that the paying organization understands and agrees with the Human Capacity approach. Don't you think?

Dear April,

You have raised a pertinent point. I recently read the Edelman survey on trust and credibility. It sheds light on interesting elements of trust. For eg the survey brought forth that people place higher trust in NGOs than the government while fact remains that government has greater power and authority to manage major problems facing socities. Check it out

Best wishes

Interesting discussion and after I read Rituu's posting, it does have implications even for the Constellation's share/ communication strategy. For example in Rituu's document, page 8, you see that people generally have little trust in Blogs and social networking sites (although it improves when you can relate to these people, when they are 'like me'). Articles in magazines and newspapers however, give high scores on usage and credibility. So let's start writing as well those peer-reviewed articles on our approach and more? It seems to be the time as well....
Dear Gaston,

What you said is so true. I too am wary of social networking sites and facebook,orkut etc is not my cup of tea. Aids competence is the first social network I joined online because of the trust I had in my Constellation friends. I have found Lau to be very careful when approving subscriptions of the members. Often she has reverted to me to confirm if I know the person who has subscribed for membership. This has further strenghthened my trust in the network.

April, thinking of your post on Trust, how much it cost. I think trust is the core of any relationship. Trust can be build in first contact/communication or it could take sometime and in some cases trust could never be acheived. All depends on the two parties in both sides, situation where the contact is taking place and the matter concerned. In one moment I was thinking Trust does cost nothing, as it is so simple to build and in another point i was thinking yeah it does cost a lot....in terms of time one provides. I agree with Laurence put trust as T on SALT. Trust is an intrigral part of SALT.

I am being entrusted by myself to nurture, apply SALT in my day to day life.

Thanks for posing the question. The implications are significant to The Constellation's assertion that 'there is another way...'

By our practise, we've shown several vital distinctions from the traditional approach to development. We facilitate rather than impose. People are the subjects of their own response, rather than the objects of external interventions. We ask questions rather than provide solutions. We work in teams to learn and share, rather than as individual experts.

When it comes, then, to programme design for the many projects we are all connected to, how does your question of 'trust' come into play? If relationship and trust-building are priority areas for a successful response - more so perhaps in the early days than the activities - are we writing our proposals differently to reflect a different set of values? Is there a line-item (implicit, perhaps) that costs the often expensive process of trust-building with partner-organisations and partner-communities?

I like to think we have these things reflected - quite explicitly in some ways - because we understand that people make response, not programmes, and so priority needs to be given to being with people.

But, we would be helped to reflect on how we do that. How do we write for that? How do we cost that? How are we defending those choices to more traditional partners who like the 'tools', but are not so convinced about the 'soft stuff'? Not so much 'trust' as a quality, but the process of building trust.

I'd be very interested to hear from others - I'm sure JL and Gaston will have much to share - around this.



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