The Thin Book of Trust

I have been reading and working through a book called The Thin Book of Trust: An Essential Primer for Building Trust at Work over the past couple of weeks. It was suggested by a podcast I listen to and I found myself very interested, thinking it could apply in my work but also that it could help improve my leadership skills if I understood trust and how to earn it a little better.

The book defines trust and breaks it down into 4 Distinctions of Trust in order to facilitate a better understanding and conversations about trust and trust issues. Each of the Distinctions are then defined and explored individually, including suggestion about how to increase your trustworthiness in each of them and facilitate a conversation if someone else is currently compromising your trust in them through their behaviors in those areas. Below are the lessons I took away.

Ultimately, I found the book very insightful and pragmatic. It’s scope is limited to the workplace, but the concepts are easily expanded to the rest of your life with a bit of thought and flexibility. I highly suggest it for anyone hoping to develop their leadership ability from any level of authority.
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Big Time Saved, Better Time Spent

The internet is full of time management tips and tricks, life hacks, and apps that are meant to make our lives easier, our tasks more convenient, and give us more time for the things we actually want to be doing.

Unfortunately, as tasks get easier, the expectations we have for ourselves and others increase. Yes, emailing and texting are easier and shorter than writing and mailing long-form letters, and our smart phones are right at the tip of our fingers all the time. That doesn’t mean it’s reasonable to reply to 100 emails and 700 texts every day!


It’s easy to think that we can just shoot off a quick message, it won’t interrupt our flow. The reality for many is that we spend all day interrupting our focused work or time that’s meant to be dedicated to things like recreation or family just shooting off quick messages. The result is a constant state of distraction, and if you’re distracting yourself from focused work, a constant state of trying to get back in the flow of things.

If you want to have a full conversation with someone, call or meet them in person. Not only will it be a shorter conversation, it will be clearer, help build your relationship, will be a more rewarding experience. Save texts for brief check-ins or confirmations, or for communicating that you’d like to talk to the person when they are available.

If an in-person meeting or phone call is an option, don’t email them without a good reason to do so. Sure, if they have specifically asked you to, take the time to email them. On the other hand, if you’re emailing because you’re responding late at night, it may be better to write yourself some notes about what you wanted to say and give them a call the next day.

While some are very skilled at brief communication, such as the eminently tweetable Michael Hyatt, most of us struggle to communicate tone successfully through text or email. While it may feel like more time at first because you have to schedule it, doing the bulk of your communicating verbally will improve communication, build relationships, and save you time overall. 

Spend the next week limiting your texts and emails, increase the in-person or verbal communicating that you are doing, and let me know how it goes in the comments below.

It may take some time for the people in your life to understand this is how you prefer to communicate, but stick with it. As you eliminate more and more of the small demands on your time, you’ll see the time they once represented open up.

On Leading Through Change

While this will not be the only post I write on this topic, I had a unique experience to put my theories and study and passion into practice this weekend. Now, this requires a bit of back story on your author, so I’ll start there. 

I have been a participant in a medieval recreation society since I was 2 years old. My mother played in the society and took me with her my entire childhood. I was raised spending 1-3 weekends of every month in this group. This society is entirely volunteer run, which means that successful events rely on trustworthy, hard-working, passionate volunteers. It also means that, anyone running these events has to lead through change.

Volunteers are amazing people, invaluable to any non-profit organizations, but they’re unpaid status means that paid work, lack of money to spend the weekend away from home, and a million other things, are more likely to interfere with their ability to show up. Some call when this happens, some don’t. 

The second piece of information you need is that I’ve been second-in-command of the kitchen at a particular event for many years. This year was the first time I have stepped into the Kitchen Manager position, putting me in charge of a core crew of 9 people, with 3 others filling in where needed when they were not working elsewhere. Together, we spent 4 days feeding 90 people. If those people ate or drank anything, it was prepared in our kitchen. 

9-12 people is not many, and when you’re feeding that many people everything they consume from sunup to sundown, it requires careful consideration of schedules, energy levels, and very intentional shift overlaps to have enough people in the kitchen at any given time. 

This weekend, one of those people did not show up. No call. Nothing. Just never arrived. They happened to be the person with the single most physically demanding job in the whole kitchen. 

Suddenly, I had to adapt and encourage everyone else to adapt successfully to a hole in our crew that needed to be filled. My carefully planned shifts and breaks were suddenly inadequate because the amount of work everyone would be putting in was greatly increased. 

What I did was successful, I believe, so I’d like to share the experience with you.

First, I recognized the problem and the worry of the rest of the crew, validating their feelings. I expressed my understanding and empathy. While each of us needed to pitch in to get the work done, I was sure to encourage them to ask for breaks when needed since the work would be much more physical than any of them expected. I expressed my absolute confidence in our ability to perform and carried on.

I think part of why this was successful is that I made sure not to dwell on it. I was confident in the ability of my crew and I made the necessary changes to task breakdowns to make up for the missing person. Once the changes were in place, there was no reason to focus on it. I simply proceeded as if everything was fine, because it was.

By maintaining the expectation that we could handle this, expressing confidence and support, and staying positive, we were able to navigate the challenge presented.

What are your experiences with leading through change? If you have any stories or tips to share, leave a comment below!