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Chronicles of Community: An Interview with Pamela Shockley-Zalabak & Sherwyn Morreale, authors of Building High-Trust CommUNITY

Shockley Morreale 1

As authors, researchers, and practitioners, Pamela ShockleyZalabak, Ph.D., and Sherwyn Morreale, Ph.D., are ideally positioned to write a book about building and rebuilding trust. Their combined publishing record includes over 23 books and 150 journal articles, many of which have carefully probed the nature of trust. Their research-based trust model, developed with international colleagues and tested in organizations of many types and descriptions, includes five trust drivers—the reasons why trust is present or absent: 1) Competence, 2) Openness and Honesty, 3) Concern for Others, 4) Reliability, and 5) Identification.

In 2010, they published their first critically acclaimed book on building trust. In 2016, they applied the five trust drivers in two national census representative surveys to explore voters’ perceptions of their trust in the presidential candidates—Clinton and Trump. In a third national survey, they examined voters’ perceptions of trust in Trump after his first two years as President. Over the years, they have traveled globally, examining trust in leaders in Europe, China, Poland, and Russia, publishing findings and conclusions about the importance of trust, regardless of international boundaries.

You can buy Building High-Trust CommUNITY here.
Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

Deciding on a title for a book is somewhat like choosing a name for a newborn baby—it is difficult! We knew we needed to include two critical terms: “trust” and “community.” Then when we came across the term “CommUNITY,” it resonated with us. A critical message in our book is that through building trust at the community level, we can bridge differences and overcome polarization, thus achieving a sense of unity.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

Rather than one person or one writer, we heard the same message from many people. They were frustrated by the lack of trust in our communities, in our leaders, in government, and in society in general—and they believed nothing could be done to restore trust. Over the years, our research about trust both in the U.S. and in other countries told us otherwise. Thus, we determined to write a book for the general public with that message—trust can be restored and rebuilt.!

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

Pam Shockley-Zalabak has had many other professions. To name a few: organizational consultant, college professor, university chancellor, and presently the director of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum.

Sherry Morreale has worked in advertising and as a political consultant, a college professor, and served as the Associate Director of the National Communication Association.

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

We have engaged in research about trust over some time, most importantly developing and testing a model of trust. That model identifies five drivers or reasons why people trust or do not trust one another: openness and honesty, competence, reliability, concern for others, and identification. Our research has told us these five drivers are necessary for good relationships and successful organizations. Bringing this model to the attention of readers of our book has been both rewarding and meaningful.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

Good question…how about “Let there be peace on earth…and let it begin with me…”?

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

Our book’s big takeaway relates indirectly to concepts like hope and optimism. By understanding what drives trust and the critical importance of trust, we hope the reader will see a path forward toward building a more trusting and productive society—not characterized by polarization but by collaboration.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

Presently, we are planning a new higher education textbook about our trust model, its five drivers, and its application and usefulness in U.S. society today. We also are contributing to a volume of essays on communication wisdom.

How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?

The staff of Atmosphere Press have been supportive and enthusiastic about our book, its writing, its production, and its visibility (web presence) and marketing. Their services include any tasks writers encounter as they embark on any book project.

You can buy Building High-Trust CommUNITY here.
Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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