Read the news and the word ‘trust’ is in every other broadcast and news site, but have you ever really given thought to what it means? The term ‘trust’ is used for a few different reasons:
- We use it to describe someone’s behaviour (i.e. they are ‘trustworthy,’ or are a ‘trusted source.’)
- We use it to assess if we feel comfortable sharing information with an individual
- We use our own ideas about trust to interpret and understand what people say
With the media to one side, in your day to day life, the importance of trust cannot be overstated. Your success will be dramatically hindered if you do not trust the people around you. That said, its very hard to measure trust – it is usually gauged as a ‘gut feeling’ rather than with a metric.
Without a framework for evaluating trust, you will be left in the dark. It is a challenge to improve your own ‘trustworthiness’ without some form of metric – there is simply no way to action your plans.
Take a page – literally – from the work of writer Charles H. Green. He co-wrote three books on the topic of trust – The Trusted Advisor, Trust-Based Selling, and The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook. In these books, he details his metric for measuring trust – the ‘Trust Equation,” consisting of four variables. These are: Credibility, Reliability, Intimacy and Self-Orientation.
The four variables of the Trust Equation
- Credibility – This component has to do with what we say and how we say it. For example – someone might remark – “Jane is a trusted authority.”
- Reliability – This variable is all about actions. Sure, you have said that you think the person in question is trustworthy, but do they prove this with their actions?
- Intimacy – There is no doubt that when we entrust another person with something important, a bond is formed. There is a clear sense of intimacy at play whenever we trust someone to do something and then they follow through.
- Orientation – Now that trust is formed and a bond is created, orientation refers to the other person’s focus. Are they concerned primarily with themselves, or do they care equally about the outcome for the other person? It never feels good to think that an individual is only thinking about themselves – in order to be truly trusted, they must demonstrate that they are thinking of everyone’s wellbeing.
We all want to be thought of as trustworthy. Whenever you are thinking about how to increase your own trustworthiness, it is a good idea to consider these four variables.
Carefully assess each one – do you recognise yourself in these attributes? Think about how you can increase your own aptitude for each of these points. Are you credible? Do you follow through on your word? Do you create a sense of intimacy with those who you work with? Do you strive to help others as much as you help yourself?
These four questions bear a lot of thought – if you find yourself lacking, it is time to do some work.