Leo Smyth

Professor of Management, National University of Ireland

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

A: Can trust survive the odd stab in the back? You can see this in a less serious context. In the industrial relations arena you very often have to create those kinds of situations. One of my favorite recollections when I was in industrial relations many years ago, there was a particularly troublesome shop steward who was really hard to deal with, but he was very intelligent. I kind of respected that. I also felt in a more ideal world he would not have been in the job he was in, he would have gone onto college and so on and so forth. But anyway, we had fought it out a bit.

Q: You as the mediator?

A: No, this was when I was in the personnel manager role. We had fought it out on many occaisions. One time he came to my office and he hummed and hawed for a bit and shuffled around and then he finally came out and said - We were going not to mediation, but something close to arbitration- He finally said, "I just want you to know that when we go there tomorrow, something you said last week, I'm going to quote it against you." I really thought, "Well how delightful, he's telling me in advance that he's going to stab me in the back." Trust is not uni-dimensional. I was quite delighted.

Q: So that was a part of the trust-building for you, saying, "This is what I'm going to do Sorry, but "

A: Yeah, exactly. And on that sort of relationship, you can actually build a lot.