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4 Tutorials that teach Trust, Credibility, and Authority: Who Counts for What?
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Trust, Credibility, and Authority: Who Counts for What?

Trust, Credibility, and Authority: Who Counts for What?

Author: Marlene Johnson
Description:

At the end of this lesson, the learner will understand that relationships play a large role in determining levels of trust, credibility and authority in conflict and conflict resolution situations

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Tutorial

Trust, Credibility, and Authority: Who Counts for What?

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How do we build trust? How do we determine who to trust? Well, our relationships play a big role in helping us decide who to trust. I'm Marlene. And in this tutorial today, I'd like to talk with you about trust and its importance, and two variants of trust, credibility and authority.

So let's start by defining trust. Trust is an expectation that an individual will act in a positive way toward other members of the relationship, based on an assessment of previous behavior. Now this is what's important here, an assessment of previous behavior.

We decide who to trust based on what we observe about that person. So you can't just go up to somebody and say, hi. I'm so-and-so. You can trust me.

People aren't going to take you at face value. They're going to say, well, who are you? Why should I trust you? In fact, it might lead them not to trust you should you try that. People are going to observe how you behave at work, in social situations, and come to their own determination about you.

Or in lack-- if they haven't seen you behave, perhaps it's for a new position at work, you're applying for work, they're going to depend on the stories of others. What do other people say about you either in terms of your work record or in a social situation? What do your friends and your neighbors say about you? So either what we observe or what we hear from others is going to help us determine trust.

Now, credibility is really related to trust. Let me define credibility for you. Credibility in relationships is a perception that an individual has adequate knowledge and an inclination to honesty regarding particular actions or statements. So we believe this person is credible in terms of what they will do or what they say.

How do we decide that? Think of the importance of relationships play here. In fact, you might be deciding who do I hire as a handyman? And you're kind of looking through the paper. You're trying to make some decisions.

And you ask your neighbor, I need a handyman. And your neighbor said, oh. Joe's great. I know him. You can trust him.

Probably your neighbor's word here is worth more than anything you're going to see in the ads about people you don't know, handymen you don't know. I know him. You can trust him. OK. I can trust him because I trust you.

I think we see this in social media in today's world. We have LinkedIn. Many people network and get jobs or recommendations or referrals through LinkedIn.

The old networking can just be social. You go to an event and you give them your business card. And you speak with them. They meet you and you give them a reference.

So LinkedIn, social media, networking, it's all part of this relationship that we're building. And people will often say, it's who you know. And that's how you might get work, jobs. So that's credibility, related to trust, related to our relationships.

Now what about authority? Authority can be defined in relationships as a recognition that a member of the relationship is empowered to fill particular roles or perform particular tasks. So you want somebody that you feel you can trust in a particular role of authority. Let's say you're looking for a new doctor.

Now you may check out what recommendations there are online for a particular physician. But how often do you just ask someone, you know, I'm looking for a good dentist. Do you know anybody? Who do you go to?

And you take the recommendation of a friend or a relative, somebody that you trust. They tell you who they go to. You consider-- probably give higher weight, more value to their recommendation than to maybe something else that you've read. So we once again depend on our relationships here and what we hear from others to make decisions about authority and credibility.

Now, there is one other thing to mention here in terms of how we make decisions. And that is that we tend to want to trust people that are more like ourselves. Now this is called an attribution bias.

Now, an attribution bias is a tendency to assign more positive traits to members of one's own group and to assign more negative traits to non-members. So people with whom we share histories and backgrounds, we feel more comfortable with. And perhaps for that reason we give more credence or more credibility to what they might say, or we have a tendency to trust them more than we trust someone who's not like ourselves, that's unfamiliar to us.

And in many cases, this can be more powerful than evidence itself. We go with this feeling we have about the individual based on how much they are like us rather than on direct evidence. So trust, credibility, authority, they're all important. And we get them through relationships that we're involved in. That's who we make these decisions about who to trust and who's credible.

Now, conflict can damage trust. Conflict can damage trust because we see behaviors that don't match what we originally thought about an individual. Now conflict can come through either something emotional that happened or perhaps something physical. You were disappointed in some way.

A person that you trusted never called, never emailed, never got in touch when you were going through a very difficult time. And now you're wondering, how can I trust this person? Is this person really who I thought he or she was?

Or perhaps you've loaned somebody some money or you loaned them your tools and they won't return them. They keep making excuses. It's damaged your trust. So conflict can damage trust.

Now, in a conflict resolution process, trust is very important. It's very important to build trust. And it's important that both parties feel that they can trust the conflict intervener. So how does a conflict intervener do that, accomplish that?

Well, the conflict intervener wants to make sure that he or she gives equal treatment to both parties so they both feel that they are being treated respectfully and equally. It's important right up front to make sure that both parties know that you're nonjudgmental, that in your role You are not here to decide anything. You have no invested interest in the outcome.

Your role is to create a safe and confidential environment for them to talk out these issues and come to an agreement that meets their mutual needs. So the environment is also important. It needs to be a safe, comfortable environment. And the confidentiality needs to be there. So a conflict resolver, a conflict intervener, needs to set up these conditions at the very beginning of the process so that there is trust with the person, the third party here who is helping to mediate or resolve the conflict.

So I'm Marlene. And I've enjoyed being part of this tutorial. And I look forward to next time.

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Attribution Bias

    A tendency to assign more positive traits to members of one's own group and to assign more negative traits to non-members.

  • Credibility

    In relationships, a perception that an individual has adequate knowledge and an inclination to honesty regarding particular actions or statements.

  • Authority

    In relationships, a recognition that a member of the relationship is empowered to fill particular roles or perform particular tasks.

  • Trust

    An expectation that an individual will act in positive ways towards other members of the relationship, based on assessment of previous behavior.