The New Trust Equation: Creating the Right Environment
Introduction: Understanding the Importance of Trust and the (New) Trust Equation
Trust is rational and emotional acceptance. Trust can be based on personal experience, situational context, or information. It can emerge without empirical evidence - perhaps relying on intuition or feeling. Regardless, belief and confidence are prerequisites of trust.
Trust is an essential component of any successful relationship, whether it's personal or professional. It plays a crucial role in establishing strong connection, fostering collaboration, and building successful endeavors. Without trust, relationships remain fragile, and interactions are transactional and impersonal. The traditional Trust Equation provides a framework to assess and understand trustworthiness based on four key elements: credibility, reliability, intimacy, and self-orientation. It is well-conceived even if it takes some explaining to conceive of its meaning.
I'm proposing a new math that cuts down on the equation and points to accessible action - something directional, almost a mantra, as opposed to means to an end. But let's unpack the existing framework.
The Existing Trust Equation
The visual below provides a framework for understanding factors that contribute to trust and enables individuals to identify areas for improvement. It would seem helpful to individuals who want to build trust, foster stronger connections, and achieve greater success in their personal and professional lives.
The existing equation: T = (C + R + I) / S
Credibility refers to the perceived competence and knowledge of an individual. When someone is credible they can more easily be relied upon. Demonstrating credibility can be achieved by showcasing expertise, providing evidence of qualifications, and consistently delivering on promises. Building credibility is crucial in establishing trust within relationships as it instills confidence in the other party. For example, a software engineer who consistently delivers high-quality code and stays up-to-date with the latest technologies earns credibility among their teammates and stakeholders.
In addition to showcasing expertise and delivering on promises, credibility can also be enhanced by being transparent and honest in communication. When individuals are open about their limitations and communicate honestly about what they can and cannot do, it builds credibility. For instance, a financial advisor who is transparent about the risks associated with an investment opportunity and provides clear explanations of the potential returns earns credibility and trust from their clients.
Reliability is the perception of consistency and the ability to follow through on commitments. When someone is reliable, they are trusted to meet deadlines, fulfill obligations, and maintain open communication. Demonstrating reliability is essential in building and maintaining trust, as it reassures others that they can rely on you to deliver as promised. For instance, a project manager who consistently meets project milestones and communicates any potential delays in advance establishes themselves as reliable among their team members.
In addition to meeting deadlines and fulfilling obligations, reliability also involves being responsive and accessible. When individuals are consistently available and responsive to their colleagues or clients, it builds trust and confidence in their reliability. For example, a customer support representative who promptly responds to customer inquiries and resolves issues in a timely manner demonstrates reliability and earns the trust of customers.
Intimacy refers to the ability to safely share vulnerabilities and emotions. It involves active listening, empathy, and building personal connections. Fostering intimacy allows individuals to develop deeper trust and strengthen their relationships. When people feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, concerns, and emotions, it creates an environment of trust and understanding. For example, a team leader who actively listens to their team members' challenges, shows empathy, and builds personal connections establishes an atmosphere of intimacy and trust within the team.
In addition to active listening and empathy, fostering intimacy also involves being authentic and genuine in interactions. When individuals are open about their own vulnerabilities and emotions, it creates a safe space for others to do the same. For instance, a manager who shares their own challenges and mistakes with their team members creates an environment where everyone feels comfortable being open and vulnerable, fostering intimacy and trust.
Self-orientation refers to the focus on oneself versus others. When someone is highly self-oriented, they prioritize their own interests and needs over those of others. High self-orientation can be detrimental to trustworthiness and trust levels as it creates a perception of selfishness and undermines the relationship. Reducing self-orientation and focusing on the needs and concerns of others is essential in building trust. For instance, a salesperson who genuinely focuses on understanding their customers' needs and providing solutions that genuinely benefit them reduces self-orientation and increases trust.
In addition to focusing on the needs of others, reducing self-orientation also involves being transparent and accountable for one's actions. When individuals take responsibility for their mistakes and shortcomings, it builds trust and shows a commitment to putting the interests of others first. For example, a leader who takes ownership of their team's failures and openly acknowledges their own role in them demonstrates reduced self-orientation and earns the trust and respect of their team members.
The New Trust Equation
However well-intentioned and thought out, the existing Trust Equation displays too many milestones, too many variables, and obstacles to the formation of trust. Quite honestly, it's too much to remember. If trust is the goal, there is a knowing that supersedes such a methodical process. When I think about it, the existing equation seems very self-oriented.
For starters, we'll focus on creating a benefit for others, not establishing our own perception or reputation. That will happen on its own if the right environment is created for propagating trust. This is the best we can do, i.e., human emotions. We don't necessarily have a means to an end, but we can set the sail in the right direction.
To be sure, few things are as complex and fickle as human emotions. Trust is valuable because once earned, it has the potential to endure. As a result, companies and brands make it their primary objective to gain trust. The board room desires key metrics that point to evidence of trust being built. This is important to keep things on the rails, but it is synthetic. A shift in mindset becomes a lasso to round up all the things and establish accountability in everything we do throughout our days. A new way of thinking taps into human emotions rather than seeking to conquer them.
The new equation: B + C = T
When we believe in something we accept it as true, or at least truthful. An important distinction. Belief is an internal decision and the initial step towards a deeper, more emotional determination. When considering connection with others, it is better to simply present the truth for others to believe than something fabricated in need of convincing. Belief can be comforting.
Ultimately, facts surface and revise what we know, so being truthful to the best of our ability keeps everything in front of us. These are things we learn as children and forget as adults peddling influence. Trust must begin with a solid foundation of truth to convey any semblance of permanency. How can we be in service to others when it comes to belief? Being a good informant is a solid start.
Confidence is the evolution and further determination of belief. When something is believed to be true, there can be confidence in it. Especially when we are consistently truth-ful. Confidence is the internal conviction that solidifies our beliefs. It's essentially a decision that we advocate beliefs to whatever degree we choose. This can lead to expressing beliefs externally, sometimes with fervor. But there's an ease to confidence, a comfort. We become less worried about confirmation, mostly because we believe, and focus on moving forward.
There’s no box to check here, but more so a realization. Let the truth be over and over and confidence will come. Trust me.
Do the Math
The new math is streamlined. K.I.S.S. We believe and therefore we are confident. Consequently, we can rely on things that instill confidence. And when we rely, we trust. This is not addition or division, it is multiplication. Confidence magnifies belief, it does not layer on top as a discrete metric. The establishment of belief in trust cannot be lost - without it, we have a house of cards.
While this math is universal in application, it is not simple. Perhaps if there was a denominator it would be relationships. Come to think of it, the equation essentially describes a relationship. One that begins with truth, born out by fact or experience, and leading to confidence, reliability, and ultimately trust.
The new equation is not an assessment tool. It's a directive on how to act and interact with others, constantly building stronger connection. It is intended to become second nature. Be a good informant, consistently contributing things to believe in. Allow confidence to flourish without providing sources of doubt, misinformation, or fruitless challenges. The key word being allow. Trust will flow if you allow it.
It’s Good Business, Too
Customers and clients want to do business with individuals and organizations they trust and feel comfortable with. Period. Over time, the New Trust Equation provides a valuable tool of intention for building trust into all interactions.
Conclusion: Cultivate Trust, Strengthening Connection
In summary, trust is integral to positive relationships, both personal and professional. The New Trust Equation provides an instrument of authentic action through relevant connections with others. It's a service mindset of providing others what they need, not changing minds. By establishing belief in truth and allowing confidence to build through consistency, we can foster real trust and stronger connections. Trust is not built overnight, but with consistent attention and intention, individuals and organizations can foster trust and achieve greater success in their endeavors.
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Bound creates connection through surfacing truths and building connection. A free 30-minute consultation provides everything we need to know to put together a plan for articulating your story in a way that is true to you and the promises you wish to make and keep with others. The ones that will help you forge deep relationships that serve the long term health of your endeavor.