Why Folks Trust Those Who Are Wrong About Everything

If you want an insight into organisational trust, I direct your attention to this mouthful:

The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer.

Edelman is a group that focuses on communications and branding, and they have some insights about the current situation. You know, the virus that’s on everyone’s lips.

Hopefully metaphorically.

Anyway, they found some curious things about who folks trust during this time.

When it comes to information, people say they trust their employers more than the government. You could concoct all sorts of post-hoc explanations for that, like employers need a healthy workforce to survive, whereas governments shield themselves from consequences with bureaucracy and abstraction.

And they found people trust mainstream media more than their friends.

Like I say, these are curious trends.

Trusting mainstream media is like adding sand to a pot of rice. There’s nothing wrong with sand, but this ain’t its wheelhouse.

Despite their shrill claims otherwise, the role of the media is not to be trustworthy. That would be great, but trustworthiness doesn’t pay the bills. They owe it to their investors to be entertaining rather than correct.

Besides, journalists can’t be experts in everything – especially frontiers of medicine where the data surprises and confuses even the experts. Even if they wanted to get the facts right, they couldn’t.

That’s why if you know anything about a field, you know the media gets the crucial details wrong all the time. It’s where you don’t have firsthand knowledge where you assume they’re spot on.

If folks trust the media, that’s a concerning trend.

But it’s not surprising if you follow my work.

See, people tend to hear from their employers more than their governments on the issue.

Maybe more often, definitely more substance.

After all, governments can only talk in generalities, while your employers roll out specific new policies.

As for the media, people check the latest goss every few hours. In times like this, F5 keys across the world take an extra licking as people refresh the news sites like mice in a Skinner Box.

Obviously, I’m not a fan of the system.

But I’m not going to wallow about it. Instead, I’m going to mine this for insights and see if we can’t use these principles for good.

Indeed, we can.

Because there’s a clear pattern in all that, and the rest of the Edelman report:

Frequency matters.

People trust the sources they hear from the most – even when those sources have wafer-thin credibility.

You might argue I have that backwards. Obviously, they’re more often going to the sources they trust more often!

Sure… except who trusts their bosses to be experts in epidemiology?

They’re not turning to their employers for information. They receive it – loud and often.

And because of that, your employees trust you more than the government.

Maybe you could use that in other areas of business.

Maybe you could communicate this clearly, frequently and emphatically about everything.

Communication builds trust; overcommunication, even more so.