Working Wounded: Where's the Trust?

Please don't tell my boss, but I did more than my share of matinees this week. Among the movies I saw were "Casino Royale," "The Departed" and "The Good Shepherd." Different as these three movies are, they all seem to center on the same point -- that you can't trust anyone. Ever.

It's clear that Hollywood is picking up on our general discomfort and disillusionment. And they're running with it at a dead sprint.

So what does this have to do with us working stiffs? I'm going to propose a radical strategy. Something that is probably going to suggest to you that I'm either naive or crazy -- most likely I'm both.

My suggestion is that we all need to start trusting people. Just writing that sentence guarantees that I'm going to get a flood of e-mails from people who disagree. The e-mails will outline, in graphic detail, stories of abuse, cruelty and general nastiness -- explaining how people used to trust others at work but have learned the hard way that they can't. And they'll tell me that it's crazy to either forgive or forget.

I understand how hard it is to do what I'm suggesting, to trust again. And pardon me for going all "Oprah" on you, but if we allow ourselves to get painted into this cynical corner, we end up being the very enemy we decry. Because to others it will appear that we are isolated and only looking out for ourselves.

I've been burned many times during my career … big-time burned. And as I'm writing this, many of the past burns are coming back to me. But I've decided that I'm going to try to rise above those situations, because I don't want that to define who I am or how I approach my life.

And this new idea doesn't apply only to people who have already earned our trust or who haven't yet violated our trust. We should try to reach out to people who we aren't sure about, and while we're at it, to people who've burned us in the past. Offer them a hand of friendship. Give them a second chance to prove themselves worthy.

Sure some will disappoint you. Maybe even a majority. But think about the people who will come through in a way that you would never have expected them to. Think about how that will inspire you and introduce new possibilities in your career and in your life.

I'm willing to bet if that you take my challenge, you'll experience far more gains than losses from this experience. You'll have renewed faith in the human spirit. And chances are, it will make your work environment a much better place to spend your time.

I'd like to hear your thoughts. Are you willing to take me up on my challenge? And if you do, what happened?

Quote of the Week

"The best parachute folders are those who jump themselves." -- Anonymous

Book Excerpt of the Week

From: "The Resilience Factor" By Reivich and Shatte (Broadway, 2002)

"'Narrowing' beliefs -- beliefs that keep you stuck in the same old routine and prevent you from taking risks -- usually generate anxiety ('She's not going to want to talk to me,' 'I'm never going tot be able to learn to paint -- not unless 'painting by the numbers' is allowed') or embarrassment ('I'll look like an idiot if I try to do that' or 'I'll miss all of the symbolism in the book and everyone else in the book club will have really deep things to say'). And anxiety then deters us from trying new things. Sheila is a woman we met in one of our seminars. She used the skills of resilience to challenge the beliefs that got in her way of reaching out. … 'Despite my many failed attempts at creating lively, vibrant flavors, I still believed that deep down inside there was a spicy cook waiting to be released.'"

Blog Ballot Results

Here are the results from a recent Working Wounded Blog/ online ballot:

How would you describe today?

   The best of times, 16.2 percent

   The worst of times, 22.1 percent

   Same stuff, different day, 61.8 percent

Bob Rosner is a best-selling author, an internationally syndicated columnist, popular speaker, and a recent addition to the community of bloggers. He welcomes your comments at

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.