Trust Tip 16: Get Beyond Fairness

We sometimes think being trusted is about being fair. Then again, we sometimes say “life isn’t fair. Fair enough. But to whom are we speaking in each case? Fairness has two sides. One side is when we’re talking about we are treated—by family, by clients or business partners, by life. The other side is how we treat others—same topic set. The rules are not the same: it depends which side you’re on.

Rule 1, The Receiving End—Life Ain’t Fair

My friend Jon tells me, “life ain’t fair—and boy am I glad of that. Because if I got what I really deserved in life, I’d be a mess. As it is, I can’t honestly think of anyone with whom I’d trade lives.” Now, when I consider that I would not trade lives with Jon, and that he would not trade lives with me, I see the wisdom of what he’s saying. Life’s not treating you fairly? Get over it. Get happy with what you’ve got. Now move along and do something great.Get out of the ‘hood—victimhood—and into optimistic, positive territory.

If you don’t, you can’t trust others. And if you yourself can’t trust, then you probably can’t be trusted.

Reach out across the 50/50 divide, and don’t look back until you hit 80/20.

Rule 2, The Giving End—Ignore the First Rule

You know the phrases. It’s dog eat dog out there. Do unto others before they do unto you. Never give a sucker an even break. Or, more insidiously, let them make the first move. Trust, but verify.

That’s a sure way not to be trusted. Instead, use the Golden Rule. Better yet, use Tony Alessandro’s Platinum Rule: Do unto others as they would be done unto, because they may not want to be done unto the way you might like.

Reach out across the 50/50 divide. Don’t look back until you hit 80/20.

The demand for “fairness” can be the enemy of trust. Mutual trust is founded on reciprocity, which requires we reach out to value the other side. The difference between a suggestion and a demand ought to be evident to all. If we spend our energy negotiating who gets 49 and who gets 51, we kill trust in our quest for “fairness.”

Whether you’re the trustee or the trustor, be bold. Take a risk. Give a little something. Make the first gesture, which allows reciprocity to kick in.

Fairness is 50/50. Leave it behind. Go hang out in the 80/20 territory.