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In my office at work I have a dictionary that I received as part of my basic drafting tools over 31 years ago. Its corners are tattered, the binding is starting to fail, and the edges of the pages are stained from the many times my thumb as ruffled its pages. But this worn dictionary has become a trusted companion in my job and studies. On many occasions I have become lost in reading and following all of the different connections between words. Trust, the subject of a recent post, is one of those words where I easily got lost in following the common thread that ran through the various words that define trust. As I explored the meaning of each word in relation to trust, the meaning blossomed into a deeper understanding of what trust truly means.

Trust 001

In our digital age of communication there are limits on how many characters, or words, one can use. It has been my observation that people will use the most common word which may or may not convey what they are really thinking. Some words are just way over used, e.g. like. Then there are the popular words that everyone seems to use. On a recent project I was assigned to nearly everyone used the word “vetted” in just about every meeting. Being the gear head (or grease head in the U.K.) that I am, I thought they were referring to the Corvette during the first meeting which I thought was very odd. My trusty dictionary only referred to “veterans” or “veterinarians”. This is where the digital age helped me to understand that they were really talking about “doing a thorough examination or evaluation of the requirements before moving forward”. Which leads to the fact that the meaning of words change over time. A computer at one time was a person who did mathematical calculations. Now a phone is a computer.

The opposite to using words is listening (or reading in this case). For some the ability to listen is a gift while others have to work at listening. Some people are unable to listen because they are too busy thinking about a response. Or they may be thinking about a story from their own life to top what you are sharing. In this example conversation becomes a competition (I have been in way too many conversations like this and will not participate when I hear what is happening). For a listener this can be a frustrating experience. For when a true listener speaks they are really trying to share what they are hearing and understanding to have a conversation. This very post has taken me from trust through a series of words that culminated with listening (to give attention for the purpose of hearing; to heed or pay attention to) and conversation (oral communication between persons; talk; colloquy (a conversational exchange; dialogue)).

Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
-Stephen Covey