Trust is antifragile

Written on //1-minute read

Trust is a foundational ingredient of any healthy relationship, personal or professional. Maybe because of this foundational quality, people tend to think of trust as a state of unwavering robustness, when in reality, trust is messy. It will be put to the test, most of the time in unintended ways. If the expectation for trust is that people will never surprise you, it quickly moves to a state where nobody can be trusted. In fact, a mismatch in expectations – or further, a conflict – can actually build alignment if in principle both ends are seeking the best outcome for the relationship.

Perhaps the way to think about trust is as an antifragile system? For the sake of definition:

"Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it antifragile. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better."

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

It's unlikely one will build trust only through volatility, randomness, disorder and stressors. No point on inflicting such phenomena on any relationship intentionally. The opposite will work better when you are starting to build it: predictability, order, motivators. However, it is naive to think tests to trust are avoidable.

While trust is a response to trustworthiness, healthy relationships can get stronger and better in the face of unexpected adversity. Therefore, trust is antifragile.