I’ve never understood the point of that trust exercise where you fall backward and let folks catch you. In my mind its a given that the people in the circle will catch you because its a set up – who is going to risk looking like a schmuck in front of everyone standing around to participate in this exercise? Therefore, the real purpose of the exercise is to show whoever paid for the “team building” that you and your co-workers will play by the rules when someone is looking.

Its when no one is looking that is the real test. I find this applies to every group I have participated in – the workplace, the political arena, extended families, theatre, volunteer work – although I am sure I’ve missed some.  I recently had to do some trust building for a singularly bizarre reason.

I had an experience in a system of hierarchy so complex that it rivaled A Game of Thrones – I angered someone in a very powerful house. They felt betrayed, lashed out and I lost my place at court. I felt abused and mistrustful and guarded myself carefully. The whys and wherefores of the incident are less important than the action it took to regain their good graces. In my banishment (not quite Thomas More in the Tower of London but I’m having fun with my analogy), I gathered my advisers, bemoaned my fate and railed against the injustice.

Finally, tired of the unsettled feelings and unproductive brooding,  I sought new council. This advisor was from a house I had never allied with before – The House of HR. There are many and legitimate reasons to avoid the axe wielding assassins in HR, but that does not change the effectiveness of their brand of political skill. The favored weapon of my counselor, high in the ranks and trusted by many houses, was fishing line. This almost invisible, highly portable tool can be used to lure or to garrote. I had found my Grand Master.

The Grand Master’s advice was to curry favor. Initially galled that I as the wounded party would make restitution, it instantly made perfect sense, I’ve read Tolkien and medieval history, I know how this works. I kicked myself for not arriving at the solution sooner.

I sent a gift and a note, which were delivered, received with surprise and delight, and I was once again a trusted member of the House. Lesson learned. Sometimes you have to take the free fall knowing no one will catch you just to prove your loyalty.

The next gift I send will be to my HR assassin, Grand Master Tara, an excellent Career Coach.