Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

You're wonderful. 

You really are.

What's astonishing is that not everyone sees it.

People eye you suspiciously. Your co-workers, especially.

Few people tell you their secrets, instead resorting to talk that's smaller than the average actuary's imagination.

Somehow, you've garnered the reputation of being untrustworthy.

I have news for you. The problem could be your phone.

No, it's not whether you chose a Samsung over an iPhone. 

Instead, well, listen to the wise words of Harvard professor Frances Frei. 

She's the one who was parachuted into Uber, after it was set alight by a deadly mixture of self-centeredness and indignity. 

There, she tried to help rebuild even a modicum of trust. Between the company and its customers. And between individual employees.

In a recent engrossing TED Talk, Frei mused on the essences of trust and how easy it is to lose them all.

She explained that trust has three fundamental components and, if any one of them begins to wobble, then the whole edifice of trust can come tumbling down.

Trust, she said, is composed of empathy, authenticity and rigorous logic.

However: "The most common wobble is empathy."

"People just don't believe that we're mostly in it for them," she said, "and they believe that we're too self-distracted."

She's very particular with her words is Frei.

Self-distracted? I'd like to translate that as self-centered.

If you're too engrossed in yourself, if you don't dedicate time and space for others, you won't exude empathy.

And, if you don't, everything else becomes more difficult.

Yes, I hear you snort impatiently, but what's that got to do with phones?

Frei entreats that people should think carefully about when, where and with whom they withhold their empathy most. Then act to change those habits.

"Look at the people right in front of us," she suggests. "Listen to them. Deeply immerse ourselves in their perspectives."

That's asking for a lot of American humans, born into an intensely individualistic culture and being taught that the winner takes it all and doesn't even consider the falling losers, clowns, lightweights, slobs and, um, dummies. 

Still, Frei has one deeply empathetic plea: "If you do nothing else, please put away your cellphone."

She described it as "the largest distraction magnet yet to be made." 

When it's present, when its temptations beckon, it's extremely difficult to create empathy.

Instinctively, we know this is self-evident.

We might have discussed it once or twice with our loved ones or our colleagues, as we're taking our Instagram pictures at a restaurant -- hashtag #foodporn.

Frei described meetings at Uber in which those seated around the table texted each other during meetings.

The texts were about the meeting.

Her whole talk makes for riveting viewing and pleasing afterthought. She recommends communicating your logic directly and simply. 

As for authenticity, that, she says, can be the hardest to deal with.

Character can create fear. So can difference. Why would your boss trust you when you're not really like them at all?

Be you, says Frei. This includes wearing whatever you want to the office.

Though Uber's latest ads, featuring CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, try to express every one of Frei's tenets, there's one logical problem with all this.

What if being you means clutching your phone at all times, so that you're never bored?

Let me offer you some rigorous logic: Stop it. Stop it right now and start being human, at least while humanity is still valued.

I meant that with the deepest empathy, you understand.

Published on: May 16, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.