Trust & Life contact LO22055

Leo Minnigh (
Wed, 30 Jun 1999 15:12:01 +0200 (MET DST)

Arbitrarily linked to LO22029 (was Trust & Openness in Organisations)

Dear LO'ers

The issue of trust in organizations is a regularly revived one on this
list. And indeed, it is very important. But which sensors do we have to
detect the trust in an organization? What could be a good trust detector?
Is this detector the interpretation of words from others, spoken or
written? Is it the look in someone's eyes? Is it the openness of the
other, possibly demonstrated by their vulnerability and weaknesses? Could
life contact be a possible trust detector?

The culture in various countries and organizations differ greatly. But in
some, life contact plays an important role. In an elephant herd there is a
great deal of trust. It is a very coherent group, and maybe we may speak
even of a LO. Life contact in such herd is very normal, regularly the
animals feel eachother's bodies, and often very sensitive scenes can be
observed where they caress each other's trunks. Since elephants could
also communicate with a complete vocabilary of different sounds, these
caresses are not a full replacement of 'words'. Lots of other examples of
the role of life contact in the animal world are available.

In some countries life contact is very normal. Nearly all of us will shake
hands during a meeting. In France it is custom that males shake hands. It
is a sign of friendship and warm greeting. Each day hands are shaken, with
no regard of age, frequency of meeting moments, and place (in shops, on
the street, in a building, everywhere). If the other person is of
different gender, or if it are two women, kisses are exchanged. I think in
these days it becomes four times (each cheek twice). The number increases
with the years :-). Somewhat similar, I have experienced in Brazil. In
general, people there are more 'touchy'. It is very normal to put your
hand on one's arm, shoulder or other place. Gender makes no difference.
For Brazilians in other 'colder' countries, it must be difficult finding a
trustful environment, because their trust-sensor is 'not done'. Even more
strongly, it could be interpreted as unwanted intimacy. Or it is
interpreted as gay.

In some organizations, trust is of life importance.
Thirty years ago, I have worked for six weeks in the coal mines Soon after
that time they were closed in the Netherlands, coal from elsewhere was
In a mine one must trust each other completely. One mistake could mean a
No women were allowed in the mines, so it was a pure male community
underground. It was normal to have life contact with eachother. Like in
Brazil, hands were taken (not shaken), arms around shoulders, hands on
knees, etc. After the underground shift, in the huge bath rooms, we helped
eachother with washing our backs.
Afterwards, leaving the terrain of the mine, we entered 'normal' life on
the street. There was no reason to distrust this life. but there were
hardly any possitive signs of trust. The temperature was much lower,
distances were greater. One was usually forced to count on words and
gestures, but no life contact.

I wonder if there are members on this list who work in, or know of
organizations were life contact is accepted and ment to increase an
atmosphere of trust.

And is life contact a good trust detector, or are there other means?

A warm greeting from a distance, accompanied with a virtual hug,

dr. Leo D. Minnigh
Library Technical University Delft
PO BOX 98, 2600 MG Delft, The Netherlands
Tel.: 31 15 2782226
Let your thoughts meander towards a sea of ideas.


Leo Minnigh <>

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