Lack of trust has been cited yet again as a major impediment to the Brexit negotiations, as Boris Johnson has announced what looks to many like a retreat from the ratified EU Withdrawal Agreement and signalled a willingness, if necessary, to break international law. The French MEP Phillipe Lamberts said on BBC R4’s World at One; ’If you want to strike an agreement with anyone, I don’t think it’s a good idea to hint that you might not abide by past agreements with the same partner.’
Everyone knows trust can take years to build and seconds to destroy, and the push and pull of any major negotiation can stretch trust to its limits, but it got me to thinking about the negotiators themselves, as individuals. They do, after all, sit across the negotiating table one minute, and across the dinner table with family and friends the next, and trust – or its absence – plays just as big a role in both settings.
So how, and when, do you start to build trust? Clearly it’s no good waiting for the crisis to happen. That’s way too late. You have to start right now, by practising on the small stuff – the countless routine, apparently unimportant, interactions we all have that make up the bulk of our daily lives, like punctuality, keeping small promises and everyday acts of understanding and consideration. Here are four ways of doing that from The Talking Revolution.