“Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’, and your ‘No’, ‘No’. . .” – Matthew 5:37
“Show up on time. Do what you say you’re going to do. Finish what you start. Say please and thank you.” Dan Sullivan refers to these in his book How the Best Get Better, as the four crucial habits of referability. “Although these seem like common sense,” he explains, “a surprising number of people in this world . . . do not practice these four habits. . . They may have brains, talent, charm, and experience, but they continually find that their clients and customers do not refer them.”
“In contrast,” Sullivan goes on, “those who practice these four habits always get referred into bigger and better opportunities.” That should come as no surprise because what he is describing are simply the basic elements of trustworthiness, and trust is the cornerstone of any healthy human relationship. Patrick Lencioni, in fact, lists “absence of trust” at the base of his pyramid in his popular business book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Or flipping that around to the positive, one might say it is the base of the pyramid listing the five characteristics of a highly functional team.
While it is true that gaining the trust of another human being is foundational in any healthy relationship, it is also important to remember just how fragile that can be; for any violation of trust can cause a relationship to crumble, and for good. I recall watching a cooking show once on TV when the late humorist and Cajun chef Justin Wilson (no relation) was demonstrating how to make gumbo. In doing so he was explaining how the most essential spice in Cajun cooking is cayenne pepper. But be careful, he warned, about adding too much of “da cayenne-a-peppa.” You can always add more, he said, but if you get too much you’re going to play heck getting it out. (His language was a bit spicier than that, but you get the point.)
Trust is like that. We can always add to our trustworthiness – show up on time, do what you say you’re going to do, finish what you start, and say please and thank you – but if you ever violate that trust, you’ll play heck getting it back. The best advice is to stick with what Jesus taught, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’, and your ‘No’, ‘No’.”