Trust In A Bottle
Trust. Now in aerosol spray.
My spam folder, like yours, rarely holds too many surprises. I’ve become jaded to the ads promoting ways to increase body parts, iPads for the price of a taxi tip, and offers from people who who claim I’m entitled to a huge family inheritance, despite the misspelling of my last name.
The other day however, I was jolted out of my jadism by an ad I’d never seen before. It was for a product called Liquid Truth by Vero Labs. It’s a trust spray. Just spritz this on a prospective client before that big meeting and the deal is as good as done, the copy suggests.
To this I thought -- spray a prospective client with anything and gaining trust will be the least of my problems.
Nevertheless, my curiosity piqued, I followed the link to the Liquid Truth Web site. Once there, a female avatar with Working Girl looks and a voice that could get a monk to rethink his occupation announced: "use this spray and everyone will trust you. For trust is power."
The “magic ingredient” in this spray is oxytocin, a human hormone that is released within our system when we experience trust. The effects of oxytocin were well documented in an abstract of the July 2009 Journal of Psychiatry. I was kind of busy that summer. Must have missed that issue.
Still not convinced that I should carry around an aerosol can of trust spray in my briefcase (special pocket sizes are available too), I must admit that there is something to the oxytocin thing.
Researchers have shown that it is especially released with touch, as in a massage, and during emotional movies. In one study they showed that in both humans and dogs, oxytocin levels in the blood rose after five to twenty-four minutes of a petting session. While reading this, I'm thinking that if I engage in petting a research volunteer, I won't need trust as much as I'll need a good lawyer. Nevertheless, I am convinced that it is possible that oxytocin could play a role in the emotional bonding between humans and dogs.
I’m certainly not advocating that oxytocin be directly applied to prospects in order to manipulate certain behaviors. But if oxytocin is indeed a barometer for trust, than there’s a lot we can learn from who, what, when and how its release in our bodies can be affected. In the meantime -- and before any scientists take up on this idea -- the bigger questions we should be asking ourselves have to do with the components of trust -- to help us better find ways to earn it and keep it without the help of an aerosol spray.
In the meantime, here are just some of my thoughts:
- I like to think of trust the way I do a good story well told -- one that doesn’t try to create a whole new belief, because I also believe that anything we believe is systemic or related to preexisting conditions that we put actively or passively in place by previous experiences.
- Stories can create dissonance that causes us to reconsider certain beliefs, but they themselves can’t create change -- only we can.
- Trust is in people -- not words, pictures, music , babies, puppies or voice quality. Trust can be affected by the use of certain communication signs and symbols, but it is always our choice to attach certain meanings to these, even if that choice is unconscious.
- The worst way to achieve trust is by assuming it’s easy to achieve. In fact, I believe that trust is sacred. If you ever become convinced that it can be sold in a bottle, look me up. I have a lakeside home in the Mohave that might be just right for you.
- In fact, trust is extremely difficult to achieve and maintain. It must be cultivated over time through consistency as inconsistency is the hobgoblin of distrust.
- Finally, trust is often seen as a function of using good common sense. It often amazes me how rarely the sense is used to create it. But P.T. Barnum was right. Somebody somewhere will buy Liquid Trust by Vero Labs. I rest my case.