The Effects of Low-Trust Culture in the Multifamily Marketplace


Trustworthiness creates a high-trust culture

I have read some very inspirational books over the years. A few of my favorites are the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, the Speed of Trust by Stephen MR Covey, and the Power Principle by Lee Blaine just to name a few. After many years of reading these books, a new paradigm has taken hold and it became a lens from which certain observations became crystal clear to me. One of my most recent observations is the apparent low trust culture that seems pervasive in the multifamily marketplace where one can spend a significant amount of time getting past time-wasters and getting to the people that work honorably.

This low-trust culture adversely affects the vitality of business, and the continuity of meaningful communication. Operating from within a low-trust culture drains energy and wastes a lot of time for everyone involved. It slows the attainment of effective results, and it cripples entrepreneurial agility. Even in the instantaneous nature of the digital world, the pace of business will slow to a crawl unless people can develop trust and mutual respect in order to create an effective working relationship. It is the single most important thing to have in any working relationship because–without mutual trust and respect–communication becomes trifling, awkward, difficult, or non-existent, “The serious practical impact of the economics of trust that is in many relationships, in many interactions, we are paying a low-trust tax right off the top–and we don’t even know it” (Stephen MR Covey, The Speed of Trust: the One Thing that Changes Everything, 2008, p. 17). Covey (2008) suggests it would be better to build smart trust in order to consciously create a trust dividend instead, “I also suggest that, just as the tax created by low trust is real, measurable, and extremely high, so is the dividends of high trust are also real, quantifiable, and incredibly high” (p. 19).

Establishing Trustworthiness is the Key

Establishing trust requires honesty and  diligence.  Trust is not a “pie-in-the-sky” phenomenon. It is real, but it requires first achieving a sense of mutual understanding along with a degree of professional courtesy. The old adage says that we should become the change that we see in the world, and I wholeheartedly agree. I think when people work to demonstrate trustworthiness upfront, it goes a long way to reaching goals more effectively. The road ahead may be challenging, but the results will be well worth the price paid with effort, perseverance, and determination to achieve the best possible outcome for all.

Mutual Benefit is the Goal

Mutual benefit is the goal, but it cannot happen without honest communication. Without it, getting to the heart of the matter is next to impossible. The whole point is to build understanding and trust. There are many out there that do not believe that win/win relationships can really exist, “Most people have been deeply scripted in the Win/Lose mentality since birth” (Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, 1989, p. 207). In order to transcend this, Covey talks about making a “paradigm shift,” (p. 23) in the way we perceive the world around us. It starts with one person, and it grows with every person that commits to the idea of transcending the level of dysfunctional interpersonal behavior that plagues the multifamily market.

Principle-Centered Power is the Way

In his book, The Power Principle: Influence with Honor, Blaine Lee (1997) explained three paths to power Coercive Power or “Controlling others through fear,” “Utility Power,” or “Let’s make a deal,” and “Principle-Centered Honor,” ( p. 15). Of the three, principle-centered power is the THE ideal form of power in which to operate from personally and professionally. The nature of business has a tendency to use “Utility Power,” where the association is good as long as someone has something that is of interest or of value to another, but the experience with principle-centered power is entirely different, “When you operate with principle-centered power, it invites others to feel, ‘I honor and respect what you are and what you’re about. Because of that, I voluntarily commit my life, my efforts, my resources to partner with you in achieving worthwhile things” (Blaine Lee, The Power Principle: Influence with Honor, p. 119).

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