Ever have something you said or did misunderstood? Maybe the level of misunderstanding is directly related to the amount of trust you have built up. Here’s what happened to one of my clients:
Cheryl wanted to congratulate her long-time client Tom on his recent promotion. So she bought him his favorite whiskey and a gift bag. She put the whiskey in the gift bag herself, and personally delivered it to Tom’s office. Several days later Cheryl received an envelope containing a $20 bill along with a note from Tom’s assistant attached to the cash saying, “We found this in the bag. It must have been a mistake. P.S. Tom says thanks.”
Cheryl was mortified. Being in the construction industry Tom was extremely sensitive to anything that might appear to be inappropriate. Cash in a bag with a bottle of whiskey could qualify. Cheryl had no idea how the $20 bill got into the gift bag, although she suspected that she may have been holding on to the $20 bill as she was packing the gift bag and it dropped in the bag along with the bottle. She called Tom immediately after receiving the note, but he was traveling. She knew she couldn’t address this issue in an email.
When Tom returned to the office the next week, Cheryl and Tom met on the project they were working on. Cheryl thought Tom might have forgotten about the $20, but at the meeting, she mentioned the bottle, the money, and her suspicion of how the $20 got in the bag. She expressed her fear of what it might have looked like. Tom had forgotten about it, but he appreciated her raising it.
Because of their relationship, Cheryl had accumulated a lot of trust in the Trust Bank. Tom did not even think anything was wrong or inappropriate, because he trusted Cheryl. If we looked at his reaction, we would say that he didn’t question her motives or veracity, because he trusted her – trust that was built up long before the incident occurred. In fact, when Tom mentioned the $20 to his wife, she said: “It’s Cheryl – it must have been a mistake.”
So we have a happy ending. This may seem like a dull story. No great conflicts. No cleaning up a horrible mess. Cheryl and Tom had a good laugh – and joked that even if Tom could be bought, a $20 payoff wouldn’t cut it. And with that discussion, both deposited more currency in the Trust Bank.