Don’t Eat The “TRUST Marshmallow”!

Several years ago, I found a very interesting book which really inspired me. It was “Don’t Eat The Marshmallow Yet!» by Joachim de Posada and Ellen Singer.

In 1970, Stanford University Walter Mischel and Ebbe B. Ebbesen provided a very weird experiment that they called the “Marshmallow Test”. They gathered about 600 kids (avg. age 4.5) and tempted them with a marshmallow/or candy. It looked something like this: a child is left alone in a room having no distractions. A candy is then placed in front of him/her and the child is given two options: to eat the candy immediately or wait fifteen minutes and receive a second candy as an award (or marshmallow).

The assumption of this book is that by delaying immediate satisfaction or reward/benefit and going for longer-term rewards in all areas of our life, we will significantly improve what we are getting, be happier, attain more financial success, better relationships, etc. The book contains some interesting true stories regarding delayed marshmallow eating but todays article is not about it. Let me tell you about the “TRUST Marshmallow».

Vulnerability-Based Trust

It is not a secret that vulnerability-based trust is the crucial point for any teams. In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable, Patrick Lencioni writes about the main essential traits of building vulnerability-based trust. Everybody in the team opens themselves up emotionally to other, step by step. Opening themselves up completely to someone else is a full of  fear process. How to start it? Who should do the first step? What would happen if somebody takes advantage of your vulnerability?

But it is all about trust. If you want to grow your team trust you will make an effort to be open to some people in your team. And you are choosing the right person and letting them know things you normally don’t tell anybody. Is it easy? No. But, that’s the chance you take, even if you may not think about it at first.

But I have a question for you. Let consider another side. Imagine, you have just found out something vulnerable from your team mate. Something which you can utilize. Something which can bring you benefits. It may be money, new client, profit and etc. What are you going to do? Would you use this information to your advantage? Don’t rush with the answer!

I would like to name such situation the «TRUST Marshmallow». The situation where we are tempted to take an advantage or someone else’s vulnerability and receive the profit. Indeed, every time when we are getting to know  somebody we should decide : should I eat my «TRUST Marshmallow» or should I wait and get more (more trust)? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to exploit vulnerability. I want to help you to build trust.

The «TRUST Marshmallow» exercise

I’m going to explore this topic and create an exercise which might help teams to discuss it. If you have any ideas, stories and comments I would appreciate your sharing them. Don’t forget that trust is a 2-ways street. Trust can be broken in an instant, but it takes a long time to be recovered.

And, don’t eat the “TRUST Marshmallow”!

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