Let’s Talk About Trust and Territory

trust by neppanen
trust, a photo by neppanen on Flickr.

This something that has been kicking around my head a lot recently. It’s a vague notion of trust and territory – or the lack of trust and how it makes us feel the need to protect our territory.

It started at SLA… I was talking to a group of people about the unconferences we’d tried in the past. I was part of the group that rolled them out in DC and Philly (or NOLA? I forget), so I’ve been involved. This other librarian felt like she owned it in Chicago. It’s her thing. She’s staking her flag. If anything was going to happen in the future… it was going to be her’s. But I also felt some ownership, why couldn’t we share?

Well we can, but I think it goes to trust. I realized part of it was lack of trust between us. I don’t really know her, never worked with her, nor she me. So, of course it was a “mine mine mine” situation, particularly because the stakes were so low it hurts us to cede anything. We need our patch, for branding, for tenure, for pride. Whatever.

In the end though, we need to trust each other to collaborate. Nobody can really go it alone, that’s just dumb, but it happens with lack of trust.

And then I had a conference call today. It wasn’t different than any other conference call really. Maybe it was more productive? But there was that trap where people kept talking because they hate silence, and they kept asserting opinions as fact. What got to me was that some of these people were telling me and others on the call that they knew better, even though it was beyond their domain.

At one point I finally said, “You know what? I agree that’s not a good definition, but I trust “Deulofeu” will help us find a better one since this is his area of expertise.” Some of the others on the call kept arguing, because they had to be right, they had to keep talking, and they had to save face. You know what? That’s just stupid.

Listen to people, give them some trust, and don’t make everything a turf battle. There’s enough stuff to go around for sure. (But if you try to argue with me whether or not bicycles and pedestrians are a mode that should be counted, I will fight you.)

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