Can you be trusted?


Africa Avenue or Bole Road as it is more popularly known is the main link between the airport and the city centre. As it became more and more difficult to allow free traffic flow for the growing number of vehicles in Addis Ababa, Bole Road was upgraded and today looks like an impressive piece of road work, cutting right through the city. Roads are normally classified according to their function and counting four lanes in each direction, I am tempted to classify Bole Road as a freeway, providing largely uninterrupted travel and being designed for high speeds. However, freeways normally have limited access but this is certainly not the case with Bole Road. Instead there is full access and the road is shared between motorists, public service vehicles and pedestrians alike. In fact, Africa Avenue is a major through road with occasional intersections, and traffic lights. It does however not allow free traffic flow for the most part as jams form during rush hours with motorists wanting to make a U-turn, where so permitted. While the road allows for relative high speed, pedestrians often have to literally run for their lives as they cross this “freeway”. Meanwhile danger increases as workers, trying to keep the road clean, occupy the right lane and cars have to swerve around them. Next, you have to avoid a piece of rock, left behind by road workers, or an open manhole. Dangerous situations are created all the time.
I visited Nairobi the other day and I was shocked again by the enormous traffic jams that are created there every day. Surely, that city’s road network is not expanded at all while it has to accommodate the ever faster growing number of vehicles. Spending two full hours in a taxi to go from one location to my hotel, I did however not see drivers becoming aggressive towards each other, the way they do here. Neither did I hear much honking by drivers, warning other road users to make way.  Upon my return from Nairobi and booking a taxi at the airport, I noticed how different drivers behave here; constantly using their horn, while pushing their way through. Drivers incessant honking here has made me ask myself why this is so and I conclude that it is mainly because of road users’ behavior here being so unpredictable and a great deal of impatience. Motorists are not trusted to notice each other or to fill the gap in front of them, holding up the hooter behind from going on his way. We simply do not trust each other and therefore have to honk our way through traffic.          
Speaking of trust, whom do you really trust?  Maybe you trust a friend or a colleague, your husband or wife, your boss, a worker? Any of these people may be somebody you really trust, which means that you have confidence in that person. You are confident that that person will keep his or her promises and is capable of doing what you have agreed will be done. Then again, any of these persons may be somebody you don’t trust, meaning you don’t have the confidence that this person will keep his or her promises or is capable of doing something you need that person to do for you. Trust is something that grows as promises are kept and the goods are delivered. On the other hand, trust can easily be violated and lost in the process. This is true in personal relationships, be it family, social or work relationships, and it is also true for companies, which have established a certain reputation in the market. Customers buy products of a certain brand because they are confident that what they get is good value for the money and they trust that the services of that particular company are good. Many passengers have more confidence in some airlines than others, depending on the track records of those airlines.
Whether somebody performs satisfactory in your opinion or simply lets you down depends basically on whether that person is capable of doing what you expect him or her to do and on whether that person is willing to do what you expect him or her to do.
Reasons why a person is capable of doing something again depend on certain factors like knowledge, skills and experience. Things can be learned. It is more complicated with the “will” factor though, as this relates to motivation. Many theories have been developed about how to best motivate people to perform, but I still haven’t found out how best to motivate workers in Ethiopia.  
People that we know to be capable and willing; will do their best to do their job. We can have full confidence in them and our confidence in them grows fast, keeping pace with their track record. The problem is they are not the majority of the people we deal with. Persons who we know that cannot and do not want to do the job don’t give much of a problem either. If hired, they will not last long before being found out.
The problems we face though are with people who can do the job but will most likely not do it to the best of their ability, or complete it if they even started it in the first place. They are a major source of stress and disappointment as we have to keep chasing them or as we find out that the results of what they are capable of turns out to be of low quality after all. These are the consultants, who disappear after they delivered their draft report and received their second pay check out of three. These are also the experts, designers and technicians who take advantage of the ignorance of their client and get away with highly paid services that don’t meet required standards by far. They are opportunists and prey on the ignorant during times of scarcity. They cannot be trusted, but the client only finds out when it is already too late, when the damage is done and when the payment is made. It is especially disappointing to meet such persons in certain professions where trust is so important exactly because the client depends on their expert knowledge and skills. Ethical conduct comes in here I suppose.
Finally, we have people who are willing to work but don’t have the capacity to do the job well. There is no shortage of them at all and they cause frustration all around as what they do is simply not good and a waste of money and time. What they make is not according to standard and more often than not the job needs to be done all over again.
And so we cannot trust people blindly and always expect good results, much as we would want to. But trust grows quickly as promises are kept. Can you be trusted?