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Trust And Relationships: Lessons From Corporate Life

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Trust and Relationships: Lessons from Corporate Life
Singapore’s once shiny reputation for honesty was tarnished in the last few weeks, when news broke of a senior minister embroiled in corruption charges and the marital scandals of Members of Parliament — from the ruling party as well as the opposition.
This was followed by a flurry of articles on themes (and hilarious memes) around whether trust in Singapore was at stake, both from its citizenry as well as from those on the outside looking in since our economy is dependent on foreign investments.
The marital scandals troubled me more. Mainly I felt sorry for the children as they would have to face friends at school, particularly if a parent was a political frontliner.
It was interesting that a colleague at work, single and in her 30s, disagreed with me. She felt that such personal issues should not cloud the judgement on work performance. And MPs, after all, are paid to do a job. And they are human….
As I dwelled on the issue of trust, and having counselled many companies on crisis communications for more than 20 years, I felt that there were many lessons to be learnt from the mistakes of corporates, and their recovery.
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Acknowledge a problem early, don’t sit on it
Trust and Relationships: Lessons from Corporate Life - Acknowledge a problem early
Most people who have driven or been driven in a Toyota would have heard about the accelerator problem.
Finally in Feb 2010, after 39 deaths in America, the CEO Mr Akio Toyoda grandson of the founder, apologised before Congress.
The company had been accused of being indifferent to customers. Here’s the Wall Street Journal video report on it.

What does this have to do with personal relationships?

The first step towards gaining trust is to acknowledge a wrong and express regret.
It’s not easy as there’s considerable loss of face but it is necessary for rebuilding. It also ensures that problems are nipped early. When they fester, they grow.
Being transparent is best for relationships
Trust and Relationships: Lessons from Corporate Life - Being transparent is best for relationships
In the course of work, I also encountered a Swedish furniture maker that put transparency above reputation.
Whenever a product encountered a problem in another part of the world, they wanted a press release sent locally.
I’m embarrassed to say that I questioned their wisdom of giving such information so regularly, and the impact on the brand reputation in the long run. They persisted.
I’m glad they held their ground because IKEA, founded in 1943, remains one of the most trusted and respected furniture retailers in the world.
As for personal relationships, I find that it’s hard to have deeper and more transparent conversations.
Today, a lot of communication time is taken up by online channels…What’s App, Telegram, Facebook, Instagram.
It’s so easy to write ‘functional’ content such as dinner plans etc, but not so easy to ease into ‘safe space’ for communication and to explain things that are happening in our lives especially vulnerabilities.
This article in Psychology Today outlines 10 ways to do this. Here are some:
People want to move on
Trust and Relationships: Lessons from Corporate Life - People want to move on
In the middle of a crisis, it is hard to detach from the issues, and the sense of defeat can be so overwhelming that it’s easier to digress into inaction.
I often counsel that a crisis blows over because people want to move on. Besides, other news soon takes front page and the process of living continues.
In my experience, people are more than ready to forgive.
In the generation before me, I was told that women would often overlook their husband’s indiscretions and they ‘won’ at the end of the day, because they kept their husbands and thus marital relationships.
I don’t think women are as tolerant today as we are all financially independent so the case to “suck it up” or tolerate is weaker.
But I know a number of relationships, including my own, that have weathered a few storms and become the stronger for it. It does take a lot of effort.
Build long-term equity in relationships
Trust and Relationships: Lessons from Corporate Life -Build long-term equity in relationships
One of the iron-clad but often ignored rules of crisis communication is to build long-term equity.
When I handled a case of identity theft for an IT company, we advised post-crisis, that they should build equity for the long term.
For an IT company, this would entail relationships with data forensic companies, industry leadership organisations as well as pro-active programmes and communication (both internal and external) to show how the company was seriously taking on data security.
On a personal level, the busyness of life especially when children come into the family picture and trying to balance that with work, takes a heavy toll on marriage. Often, issues get clouded without the requisite time to discuss and resolve them.
I’ve often admired couples that put all things aside to take a date night weekly. I found it hard as somehow, there were often more urgent problems that needed attention at the end of each week.
There’s more time these days, as our adult children are busy with their lives. Our relationship equity comes from friendship circles from my 20s and church circles who have shared similar life journeys and offered wise counsel.
Currently I’m challenged to build ‘women’ social circles. For the first time, I’ll be going on an ‘all women’ weekend trip to Bangkok with my female workout friends – I’m really nervous about it.

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Silver Spotlight: Sweet Charity Still Rocking After 5 Decades

Songs like Kamelia, Ribut 10:59 Pagi, Teratai, Musibah and many others, made Sweet Charity a rock phenomenon that has prevailed for more than 5 decades. The band will celebrate their longevity at the Star Vista Auditorium this Saturday.

Lena Soh-Ng

Having spent most of her work life in PR, Media and Communications, Lena finds that there’s indeed a circle to life as she goes in a full loop back to Media, at SilverStreak. Whether writing, social media posting or researching, there’s always something fascinating to learn…these are her special Silver moments.

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