FOCUS: Does It Really Matter If You Care?

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Caring is “we” not “I.”

In life and business, caring is the assessment that you have the other persons’ interests in mind as well as your own when you make decisions and take actions. Of the four aspects of trust I’ve written about, this is in many ways the most important. Others may believe you to be sincere, reliable, and competent, but if they believe you’re “only in it for yourself”, they will limit their trust of you to specific situations or transactions.  They will not fully TRUST you….

A state of limited trust can infect the other areas of trust. If others feel you don’t care, they begin to doubt your reliability, sincerity and competence. At the very best, they put conditions on trusting you. This will not deepen or strengthen your relationships with anyone.

It leads to this kind of thinking:
  • I may be able to believe what she says
  • She may do what she commits to
  • She may be competent
  • I’m not going to trust her to do anything beyond the exact thing we’re working on right now.
  • I won’t let her get close to me or know what I’m thinking.
  • I’m not sharing ANYTHING about what I care about with her.

This thinking is designed to keep them “out of danger”….the perceived danger of actually trusting you, if you don’t care.

Limited, or conditional, trust may be OK in some circumstances, but it means that you have to negotiate every single transaction. This really doesn’t serve you or your business when you need to work together effectively to succeed. When others believe that you care about them, or what they care about, you don’t have to convince them every time you need their trust. They will tend to be more forgiving when things go wrong. If you miss a deadline (reliability), say something that contradicts what you told someone else (sincerity), or goof up (competence), others will give you the benefit of the doubt more readily if they believe you care.

How can you go about cultivating trust in the fact that you care?
  • Some degree of intimacy is fundamental to the assessment of care in a relationship. Think of the people you believe have your interests at heart. In every case I’ll bet they have in some way honestly shared with you some of what is important to them – their values, hope, dreams, and/or concerns. This is how intimacy is established, how it grows. If you want people to believe you are concerned about their interests, listen to what is important to them, and tell them what is important to you.
  • Listen to others, to what they say, and what they are trying to communicate. You may have known someone who listened to you as if you were the only person in the world, who gave you his or her complete attention when you spoke. They let you say what you had to say and didn’t respond with words of judgment. They probably also looked you in the eye, and may have asked questions and responded in ways that told you they heard what you meant to say. If you can be this kind of listener for others, they will trust that you care. Listening while mentally preparing your response is not listening.
  • Before you speak or act, ask yourself these questions: Will what I am about to say or do serve the people I work with, work for, my employees, and my company as well as me? Why do I believe it will serve them? If you recognize that what you are thinking of doing is really only going to serve you and will likely damage the interests of others, ask yourself if doing it is important enough to risk losing their trust. Trust lost is devilishly hard to regain.
  • Ask the people you work with what their interests and concerns are, and point out where you both have common interests. Listen!
  • Tell the people you work with what your hopes and desires are for the work you’re doing together. Ask them theirs.
  • If you manage people, clearly tell them what you expect from them and what they can expect from you. Then follow through (in many companies, this is the missing bit…). This may sound a lot like the behavior of sincerity and reliability, and to some degree it is. Exhibiting the behaviors of reliability and sincerity are ways of demonstrating that you have their interest in mind.
  • When you make decisions or take action, let people know you understand how it affects them, even if the effect is adverse. Tell them why you are doing what you’re doing and identify the interests your actions serve.
Caring as a tactic is not caring. If you aren’t genuine, others can figure that out quickly. Authentically engage and allow yourself to care, and the value of the trust you can build will create a foundation upon which you build enormous success.


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