In 2001, Pres. George W. Bush met Pres. Vladimir Putin for the first time. At the press conference afterward, Bush famously said, “I looked the man in the eye and I was able to get a sense of his soul.” When said, Bush suggested that what he saw was good and decent.
Lest we think this is only something that President Bush thought, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Putin for the first time and presented him with a reset button that was symbolic of resetting US-Russia relations. Putin smiled warmly and nothing changed.
This is not about foreign policy but is about wishful thinking. Wishing something will be a particular way doesn’t make it so. Wishing someone will warm up to you or treat you fairly if you deal with them well doesn’t guarantee an outcome.
There is a famous story from the Reagan years where he was going to meet Gorbachev for the first time. His foreign policy advisor for the meeting told him that Russians like to communicate through proverbs and that given his experience in acting, Reagan could memorize a few and use them to communicate with the prime minister.
One of the proverbs he was taught was доверяй, но проверяй
In English that translates into, “Trust, but verify.”
In our dealings with others, it’s important to remember that people going to deals, negotiations, projects with good intentions but sometimes don’t live up to them.
We want to trust them but need to monitor their performance to ensure that they confirm our trust in them.
It isn’t enough, to quote the old 60’s song by Dusty Springfield, to be
“Wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’
Plannin’ and dreamin’
That someone will fulfill their commitments. It’s important to verify that they are so that they confirm your trust in them.
Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2020
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1900 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.
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