The Road to Trust

In the first article we looked at what is trust, its importance in business and the signs of a low trust culture.

In most cases we recognize trust or a lack of trust in observable behaviors. Let us look at the 10 criteria for trust[1]. They can be divided into Swift Trust Criteria i.e. criteria that can be more easily and quickly established and Deeper Trust Criteria i.e. criteria that take time, focus and a more conscious effort.

Swift Trust Criteria

  • Competence – Do you believe that I am competent? That I have the knowledge, skills, expertise and authority in a given field or topic area? Do you feel I am competent to occupy the role I am in?
  • Openness with information – Do you feel that I share important information proactively, openly and clearly?
  • Integrity – Do I keep my word? Do I do what I said I would do? And if for some reason I don’t manage do I let you know well in advance? Do I live by my own values?
  • Reciprocity – Do you feel that I am trusting and cooperative towards you? Trust flows two ways. We cannot expect people to trust us if we are not willing to extend the same cooperation and trust toward them.

Deeper Trust Criteria

  • Compatibility – Do we share a common background? Do our values, interests, approaches, objectives align?
  • Goodwill – Do you feel I am concerned for you overall welfare? Do I take the time to get to know you and understand what is important to you?
  • Predictability – Do you see me as being consistent, over time and in multiple situations and context.
  • Wellbeing – Do you feel you have nothing to fear from me? It is difficult for you to trust me if you are afraid of me or if you feel I will seek to blame you when things go wrong.
  • Inclusion – Do you feel I actively and adequately include you in work activities, decision making process and discussions?
  • Accessibility – Do you sense I am sharing my true feelings, being authentic and can you relate to me on a personal level? Do you see me as approachable?

Think about a person from your live or work context. It is likely your ability to trust or not trust them is influence by these 10 criteria.

If 10 criteria seems like a lot to remember, luckily there is another option for us.

In her TEDTalk, “How to build (and rebuild) trust” Frances Frei, the Senior Associate Dean for Executive Education at the Harvard Business School boils down trust into 3 core components: Authenticity, Empathy and Logic.

I am far more likely to trust you if I sense that you are being authentic, that you are being your true self. Not overly polite, smiley, agreeable or positive for example.

I am far more like to trust you, if I believe you are being empathetic towards me and have my best interest at heart and are not just in something for yourself.

Lastly, I am far more likely to trust you if there is a rigor in your logic and if you are able to clearly and convincingly communicate that logic to me or others.

If any of these 3 components is missing or seems a bit shaky then trust is threated.

Learn more about practical things you can do to build a culture of trust in our third article of the leadership trust series.

[1] Building Trust in Diverse Teams: The toolkit for emergency response. Emergency Capacity Building Project, 2007.

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