When Narendra Modi was actively campaigning for BJP, he constantly used the word ‘Trust’ to strike a popular chord in the people’s psyche. He exhorted the voters to trust him, and give him a chance. A strong call for trust, from the voters, appeared to evoke heart-filled sentiments in the people. Similarly, Arvind Kejriwal, AAP leader at one point of time repeatedly asked the middle class and youth to have trust in AAP’s ability to provide a clean government devoid of corruption. I think politicians are increasingly using the word ‘trust’ to win public sympathy. In most of the cases, their often use of the word ‘trust’ is an emotional ploy in their pursuit of power.
The corporates and business houses too now feel that they have to carve their clean image by using the word ‘trust’ in their communication strategies. The speeches of their business heads are laced with the word ‘trust’. When you see the advertisements today, you will feel that copy-writers increasingly use the word ‘trust ’so that people buy the products. Today, the consumer is not a fool. I don’t think that catchy advertising slogans with dominant use of word ‘trust’ will change a consumer’s perception.
At the level of society, we see the more use of word ‘trust’ in verbal communication. In family, the husband and wife constantly ask each other to trust, so that their relationship becomes strong. A desperate communication medium of trust is used to remove marital discord. The parent-child relationship is witnessing a big upheaval. Values are changing, and parents who are more attached to old legacy, find difficult to adjust to the changing times. In this scenario, the parents and children more often use the word ‘trust in their verbal communication, when things go awry. Both parents and children try to convince each other that they have deep trust amongst them.
The organizations, or sectors, today when there is trust-deficit all around, portray themselves as trust-worthy to build up their image. Their communication strategies are geared towards this, and often this becomes a PR exercise. The corporates, in the grab of Corporate Social Responsibility, are using CSR as medium to show their deep trust in the community welfare. The NGOs, cooperatives and civil-society organizations, which are people-based, naturally use trust as a communication medium to win popular support.
Increasing use of ‘trust’ as a medium of communication in all walks of life clearly indicates that we realize the importance of trust. We have strong conviction that without trust, systems will collapse, and social norms wither away. But, how to assess the genuineness of trust claims from all quarters? I think trust-based surveys are very important to assess the impact of ‘trust’ as a communications tool. These surveys should touch all the areas of polity, society and economy. Trust-based surveys with defined parameters in organizations/sectors will also show interesting results. Definite and clear-cut strategies would then emerge which would help in solving the problem of distrust everywhere.