In the jungle, species go to great lengths to form bonds of trust that distinguish "us" from "them". In a predator/prey environment, trust is an empowering tool because so much depends on it. Trust gives us the ability to rely on another person's integrity, strength, goodness, etc. - Ex: You can trust that she'll be there to do the right thing.

I find it difficult to understand why so many leaders abuse the trust we give them. It is such a vital aspect of leadership, self-actualization and social order, you might suppose they would do all in their power to protect it.

Trust? Reputation? Character? Do these
ideals have survival value? Curious, I decided to see how our closest relatives deal with the trust issue. What I found gave me a bit of a shock - apparently they think it's important enough to devote considerable time, energy, creativity and effort to build it up. They invest heavily in their « social capital ».

If you don't know it, scientists à found our
closest relative to be the Bonobo Monkey. As the Genome Project tracked our DNA, we discovered Bononos share 98.4% of our genes, making them closest. Originally misclassified as a "pygmy chimp" by the French, Bonobos resemble Australopithecus and we separated from that common ancestor about 3 million years ago.

I learned that Bonobos - who reach 55-60 years of age and live in communities ruled by a matriarchy - i.e. by dominant females. Even the male social ladder is determined by its female lineage. Groups of up to 75 members forage in 10-15,000 acre territories, constantly moving their home a mile or two a day, living in peace and plenty. Females organize every aspect of society so trust is built and maintained by the creative use of...
ahem... SEX.

Bonobos use sex to bond with each other, to relieve tensions, to exchange power and pleasure, to relieve boredom or aggression and more. At the first hint of trouble of hormonal flare-ups, a few females will quickly jump in to -
uhh - relieve the fuss. Bi-sexual, they'll use sex in all manner of communication - from negotiating and persuading to maintaining a peaceful order or just having a bit of fun. Judging the way they indulge in every possible sexual configuration, with so little reservation, many times a day, they might have inspired the Kama Sutra.

Why then, is trust so difficult to build and so easily eroded in human dealings? Because we don't invest in our « client capital ». Most people do not strategically give value to their relationships.

The book
Trusted Leader, by R. Galford and A.S. Drapeau, points out several strategic truths that should always be considered when we deal with other human beings:
  1. There's no longer any such thing as a private communication. You needn't get paranoid - but rest assured anything you say or write will eventually reach the people most concerned or affected by it.
  2. There are no more "off the cuff remarks". People will put deeper meaning or speculate wildly about your casual chat, choice of word and phrase, decision or move.
  3. The «effect of paradigm» is always in play. No one has an "objective opinion". Everybody's perception of "out there" is assembled "in here" by limiting pattern of neurons. In order to assemble some neurons into a perception, it is necessary to not assemble others... And (conscious or not) that implies a choice.
  4. People lie many times a day, everyday. We don't always tell the truth. We share self-serving opinions and say whatever is needed to get by.
  5. People hear what they fear most. In stressed organizations, most people arrive at negative interpretations of any directive or decision.
  6. Trauma has a long memory. You will react to, apologize for, manage, tread on eggshells or repair damage - whether responsible or not - for a long time after it's been done.
  7. No good deed goes unpunished. Even an act committed with the purest intent and realized with great skill will upset some people who'll object to it, denigrate the effort or slander you. But do it anyway!
  8. Newton's 3rd law of motion always works - but rarely like you'd expect. As every action has an equal and opposite reaction, the larger an organization, the greater the probability a seemingly harmless act will have a hugely negative impact somewhere.
  9. Good things do happen. The corollary to point #8 is that very positive reactions also occur - but people usually believe them to be luck or magic. In example, if you'll anticipate tremendous resistance to a change, you might be surprised to hear them say "It's about time."

In other words, when dealing with the human species, be careful...
it's a jungle out there!