The breach of the US capitol was a breach of trust
If you are feeling adrift after the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, it may be because your trust has been betrayed. Trust is our willingness to be vulnerable and allow another person, or an organization or institution, to have power over us.
We believe that human trust consists of four components: competence, motives, fair means and impact.
Fundamentally, we agree to let an institution, in this case the U.S. government, operate because we trust in its competence, its good motives, its fair means and its positive impact on us. The Jan. 6 attack graphically illustrated the cracks in all four of these. Let us explain.
COMPETENCE: Competence refers to the ability to get the job done and is constitutes the most basic level of trust. There were clear signals that a protest was coming: On Dec. 19 President Donald Trump had tweeted, “Big protest in D.C. on January 6. Be there, will be wild.” Vox reports that D.C. officials were tracking bus reservations and expected “stadium sized” crowds.
And yet, Capitol Police were severely underprepared. They were not wearing riot gear, in marked contrast to the military gear law enforcement had worn when responding to Black Lives Matter protests in Washington, D.C., last July. The barriers they set up around the Capitol didn’t stop the insurrectionists from entering. On video footage, some police appeared to open up the gates into the Capitol complex, letting the attackers in. When the governor of Maryland tried to call the National Guard for back up it took 90 minutes for the secretary of the Army to authorize it. Overall, it took four hours to secure the Capitol. At best, this was gross incompetence.
MOTIVES: Motives are our reasons for operating. While it’s unreasonable to expect everyone to be completely altruistic, when we trust them we expect people to act in the best interests of the groups they serve. It is reasonable to challenge the results of a close election. However, there were 62 court challenges and three recounts that all came to the same conclusion: Joe Biden had won. And yet, in the wake of the Capitol attacks scores of House Republicans still voted to reject Arizona’s and Pennsylvania’s vote counts.
America is built on trust: we trust n the choices citizens make in electing their leaders, and we trust in political opponents who are not victorious to give up the fight and participate in a peaceful transfer of power. Given the overwhelming evidence that the 2020 election was fair and secure, and a 220-year-old tradition of a peaceful transition of power, some lawmakers’ insistence on rejecting the certified voting results raises questions about their motives.
FAIR MEANS: The hallmark of fairness is consistency, whether it’s using the rules to offer rewards or to mete out punishments. It’s long been clear that systemic racism is an underlying problem within American law enforcement. This was starkly evident in these recent events.
We’ve repeatedly seen videos of police killing Black citizens for selling loose cigarettes, for passing a counterfeit $20 bill, for playing with a toy gun in a park. We’ve seen phalanxes of police in the streets before last year’s Black Lives Matter protests. And yet we watched a largely white crowd storm the Capitol with impunity. An estimated 14,000 people were arrested for antiracism protests this past summer; on June 1, 289 protesters were arrested in one day. As of the writing of this article, mere dozens of people have been arrested for storming the Capitol. If law enforcement officers cannot be trusted to apply the rules fairly, it calls into question the very foundation of what American government promises its citizens, which is equality under the law.
IMPACT: All actions come with consequences and we’re still waiting to see what impact the Capitol attacks will have. What’s next? If the outgoing president and his team can actively encourage violence to contest legitimate election results, and if lawmakers can continue to protest the 2020 results, what does this mean for future elections?
Our research shows that lost trust can be recovered. The Capitol attack can be a turning point rather than the beginning of the end. The road to restoring trust is long, but as with any road, you need to take the first step. Right now, government leaders can take three actions to regain our confidence:
1) THEY CAN COMMUNICATE A SINGLE MESSAGE: The actions of the insurrectionists are unacceptable. We know it’s difficult for the government to come to a consensus, but surely lawmakers can unite in saying that attacks on the Capitol are unacceptable in any form. Members of the GOP are suggesting, without basis, that the attacks were conducted by members of antifa, a loose network of leftwing activists. This defies the evidence of our eyes and ears, the hours of horrifying footage of people wearing MAGA hats and bearing Trump flags rampaging, looting and desecrating our seat of government. The suggestion that other parties are responsible, despite clear evidence to the contrary, encourages people to deny our shared reality and chips away at our trust in our lawmakers.
2) THEY MUST PUNISH THE GUILTY. That there have been so few arrests is shocking, especially given the violence and the destruction of property. But the attack of the Capitol isn’t just an attack on the building. The Capitol is a concrete symbol of the promises America makes to its people. Allowing the attackers to walk away sends two messages: First, violence and destruction are fine. Second, the promises America makes, the laws and processes it creates and the lawmakers who do this work are not worth protecting.
3) THERE MUST BE CONSEQUENCES FOR THE INSTIGATORS. While this was the work of many, including those who whipped up the crowd at the rally right before the attack and Sen. Josh Hawley, who infamously pumped his fist at the mob outside the Capitol, this was all ultimately done in support of Donald Trump.
By failing to immediately impeach Trump, or to remove him from office using the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, they have sent the message that incitement to violence against the United States of America is acceptable, even for the president. What precedent does that set for the future? In a country that is so divided, how can we possibly expect future peaceful transfers of power — not to mention a government that is able to function properly — unless we act now?
You’ve probably heard this advice before: Bring your “authentic” self to work. It makes sense. Being yourself is the best way to form meaningful relationships, which are integral to career success and growth, no matter what field you work in. Research shows that people with a robust social network have better job performance, feel more fulfilled and even live longer.
But how do you actually share your “authentic” self in a professional setting, and how can you do it in a smart and sustainable way?
As a business owner, I can attest that building strong connections with my colleagues and peers is what has fueled my success. Here’s what I’ve learned about how to form these kinds of relationships in ways that feel productive rather than draining:
— THERE IS NO ‘WORK SELF’: Do you feel like there’s one version of you that shows up during work meetings and another, more authentic version that shows up with friends? It’s understandable. But if you see networking and work interactions as transactional, you’re likely missing out on an opportunity to form deeper connections, which can only happen when you show up as your full self.
I recently joined a business Zoom call where everyone was talking about the weather. I related the weather back to something more personal: I’m not fond of rainy days because walking is the main thing helping me get through this pandemic. I’ve walked more than 1,200 miles since September. I shared something specific and vulnerable. I also spoke like a human, as I would in a room of friends.
— IT’S A PRACTICE: Showing up as your “authentic” self requires listening. When I have a conversation with someone new and sense a good connection, I try to pay attention to details like what they’re passionate about, where they work or something they’ve found specifically challenging. Then, I follow up. If I find an article that reminds me of our conversation, I send it. If I’m hosting an event that they might find valuable, I invite them. Being an active listener also helps you gauge quickly who you want to build deeper connections with (or not).
Being generous with your suggestions, ideas and connections — even when you don’t need something from the other person — is one of the most powerful ways to connect. That said, help in ways that energize you rather than exhaust you.
— YOU DON’T HAVE TO CONNECT WITH EVERYONE: Beware of people who only want to hear about you but don’t reveal anything about themselves, and those who only want to talk and don’t care to listen.
Relationships should be reciprocal. Start by choosing a handful of people in your professional life who you want to deepen your relationship with, and ask them for a coffee date or virtual drink. If you don’t authentically enjoy the relationship, it’s not worth your time.
Focusing on and making space for deeper connections has allowed me to fuse my life and my work without burnout or anxiety. It can work for you, too.