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Trust me, I got your Six
By Carl ToersBijns, former deputy warden, ASPC Eyman, Florence AZ
Published: 10/21/2013

Handshake5 How many times have you heard this expression and it makes you either feel at ease or very uncomfortable. These two phrases can mean so much to some and taken for granted by so many others. The meaning of “trust me” goes deeper than most realize and should be taken with a grain of salt or pessimism as it does not always mean what it says. The other phrase commonly abused is “don’t worry, I got your six” and indicating they are going to back you unconditionally.

Today we use abuse words way too much. We say “trust me” like it’s a common word that we all understand and know what it means. In all reality what is trust? Trust is something of value and dependability. Trusting someone is relinquishing control over something or someone and providing yourself with the predictability that everything is fine and things are under control and done in the manner or expectation or responsibilities implied. Although rarely seen in this light, trust is an emotion. It conveys feelings that are suitable for openness and willingness to expose yourself to vulnerabilities that others may take advantage of if given to the wrong person.

Secondly, having your six doesn’t always imply what it stands for. There are many other dynamics involved when you are telling someone that you got their back or will be there without any uncertainties to worry about. The mere environment you work in puts limitations on both of these inferences and the better you understand it, the less disappointed you will be. However, in most cases, having someone’ six is merely a phrase that means they understand what you do and what it is all about when they try to explain the dynamics around your job and the workplace.

Trust is given by being logical about your decision making and choices in life. When you trust someone there is always a risk involved but based on your emotional bonds and your common sense that tells you have made a good decision it takes in considerations of probabilistic elements that tells you that there will be something positive come about on this decision and give you a level of confidence you can deal with ease. Basically speaking most people can feel trust when they associate it with special persons such as family, friends or other companions in their lives. Associated with this feeling of predictability and comfort are satisfied feelings that reflect agreement, relaxation and comfort with the act of finding someone or something trustworthy of your confidence.

Backing someone up depends on whether they can be there to do it. Working shift work, rotation and different posts severely impairs your ability to be there at any given time. Sometimes having someone’s six simply means they are in agreement with your style, your methodology applied or in harmony with your ideology. It can have so many different meanings it becomes confusing in every sense.

Life has taught two things for certain. The greatest average rate of risk is 50 per cent in most cases. It is either a good or bad decision or it is either a reasonable or unreasonable decision. It will either work out as planned or it will not. This is where predictability is measured based on how you think situations will occur or be resolved. Knowing who to trust or what to trust plays into this factor as you exchange information you have about your family, friends or other persons who you have placed a level of trust in. Anything less than 50 per cent is just a poor choice made if you have insight on what other people will do and how they will handle a situation when it occurs.

Purely based on your own experience about inmates this average rate of risk is way below 50 per cent and closer to 10 percent giving you no reason to trust them or to think they will help you when you get into trouble. Unfortunately this may also apply to peers or associates that have poor ethics or performance skills and will not be there to help you either when you need it the most.

Last but not least is the exchange value of trust. In a relationship one expects love in return for trust. In a business relationship one expects loyalty in return for trust and in in business matters we expect a principle at work where you trust you get your money’s worth for the price paid. Loyalty to a person place or thing is important and should be a reasonable condition of working together within a team. A real team performs as one and do things for the value of the team and not any individual on that team.

Therefore trust is a perpetual feeling or emotion that goes with the mood or emotion of the moment as well as the sensibility in making good choices based on experiences to not fully knowing what has value and how much value it contains but are willing to take the chance that it is what you expect it to be or claimed to be. Trust now becomes particularly important, because otherwise we are giving something for nothing.

When we trust other people, we may not only be giving them something in hope of getting something else back in the future but we may also be exposing ourselves in a way that they can take advantage of our vulnerabilities known commonly as being “burned” by another person who you should not have trusted to begin with. Hence lessons learned are valuable assets in making such decisions in life and the workplace.

Trust should be used sparingly and with wisdom. Once someone has failed your expectations and trust they should hold no more value at the same level as before to you and that broken relationship brings a lack of understanding that goes deeper than the surface for it impacts respect, love and dependability thus establishing the other person as someone unworthy of being reliable and having value in your life.

Backing someone up or “having their six” requires the same level of commitment, judgment and dependability in order for the principle to work as one expects it to when under duress, danger or unpredictable harmful situations where a helping hand is more than just being friends. It may be a matter of life and death. Therefore, in a correctional setting, these two principles go hand in hand and create the greatest bonds men can have in law enforcement; a trusting partnership that protects one another and more.

Corrections.com author, Carl ToersBijns, (retired), has worked in corrections for over 25 yrs He held positions of a Correctional Officer I, II, III [Captain] Chief of Security Mental Health Treatment Center – Program Director – Associate Warden - Deputy Warden of Administration & Operations. Car’s prison philosophy is all about the safety of the public, staff and inmates, "I believe my strongest quality is that I create strategies that are practical, functional and cost effective."

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