Trust: Turn The Other Cheek or the Golden Rule?
in Blog
By: David Frankil, NJCUL President/CEO

How does trust evolve? Or just as important, how does distrust become the norm?

The concept of trust is what makes collaborative efforts and relationships work, whether between credit unions, between credit union leagues, and even nations. Consider how important trust is to the business of financial services – one of the hallmarks of our credit union/member relationship is trust. Also consider how some businesses have found it very easy to build up trust (Uber, Lyft, AirBnB) – and how easy it is to destroy it (Uber, Wells Fargo, VW). 

But it sometimes seems as though the environment within which we operate and most of the tools we have at our disposal make it hard to build and maintain trust. It is easy to miscommunicate and create distrust in today’s digital environment. The full nuance of language is never captured in emails, or even worse, with tweets.

All of which suggests that it is worthwhile to spend some time understanding strategies around building trust.

I came across an interesting illustration of the challenge in building trusting relationships, a web site ( with a graphical simulation of the application of game theory to various trust scenarios. It starts with the real-world example of the spontaneous World War I Christmas truce, where enemies up and down the line defied direct orders and implemented a cease fire during Christmas, even celebrating with their opposite numbers.

The trust game itself is nominally about two individuals and a coin machine, acting and reacting under different behavioral scenarios – real or expected. You find out which strategies are more effective, and when certain strategies can be less effective – for example, when to turn the other cheek, or treat people like they treat you. Fair warning, it takes about 30 minutes to work through – but trust me, it’s worth it :)