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Trust is a funny topic. Not in the ha ha sense, but in one where we all have different opinions about it.

For some people trust should come unconditionally and for others trust comes because others have earned it. I tend to be in the second school and believe that trust is earned and often re-earned over a period of time.

Let’s start with what builds trust.

One of my favorite books is The Trusted Advisor. I think the best part of the book is a very simple formula the authors developed. Understanding this formula can easily help you know why someone trusts you or they don’t.

The formula is:


Read on and we’ll explore each of the components of this formula.

What happens when you’re not reliable?

One of the easiest things in life is to be reliable. That means that when you say you’ll do something, you do it. It also means that if you are running behind, it’s your responsibility to let the other person know.

How often have you had someone make a promise to you then just fall down and not deliver what they promise? What is your feelings towards this person when it happens?

What about emails that aren’t responded to? What about phone calls that aren’t answered? Aren’t these things part of being reliable?

I want you to ask yourself when you’ve not been reliable. I now want you to ask what happens when you run across the person you dropped the ball with. Do you admit you screwed up or do you hope the issue never comes up? If the second response is true, you will have a trust issue.

What happens if you don’t really care about the other person?

This is where intimacy comes into play. I bet there’s been a time in your life where you had to work with someone and you just didn’t care about them. Do you think the person you were working with figured this out?

The bigger question is once the other person figured out you didn’t care about them did working with them get easier, harder or stay the same? I’m going to bet that your work relationship just got harder.

If you don’t care about me, I’m going to have a hard time trusting you. If I don’t care about you, I can be sure you’re not going to trust me. When this happens, work just crawls to a giant halt. Is that what you want?

Why is trust dependent on being competent at what you do?

You might not think that competency or telling the truth can affect trust. Let’s face it, there are things we’re just not very good at. When we try to fake it all we’re doing is helping other people wonder about everything we say and do.

Instead, if you were to admit that it’s something you don’t have lots of skill in, how will that affect your working relationship? I’m willing to bet it’ll help your relationship.

You see competency doesn’t mean you have to be an expert at everything. It means you have to be honest with those you’re working with.

Where does self-interest fit into this who equation?

The final part and the divisor is self-interest. This is where you start doing things that work in your favor and not the other person’s.

There is no getting around it, we all are in this position from time to time. Anytime I get into a pricing conversation I know that I’m working in my own best interest. At the same time if I’m not willing to put myself in this position I’m know I’m going to allow others to take advantage of me.

None of us want to be taken advantage of. I find the best thing to do in this situation is to just open up and let others know that you’re about to have an uncomfortable conversation. One that often hurts the trust you’ve built.

Being honest about what’s going on always helps to keep trust with you high. Just admit that you’re not working in the other person’s best interest. At least they’ll understand that you’re being honest and that builds trust.

This stuff is really important.

For me, the reason that this is so important is the title of one my favorite books, “Business at the Speed of Trust.” The more you trust someone, the faster things get done.

When we have a trusting relationship we don’t have to wonder about the motives of the people we’re working with. When trust breaks down, things get harder. We have to take extra steps to make sure we’re not being taken advantage of.

I’m hoping that you are willing to go out on a limb. I’m hoping that you take a hard look in the mirror and see how trust affects how effective and efficient you are. If you’re unhappy with how long it takes things to get done, you might want to ask if there’s a trust problem.

If the answer is yes, you know what to do about it. Oh, and if you have any opinions about this post, why don’t you click here and let me know what you think.

One more thing……. this stuff works just as well at home as it does at work and is probably even more important.


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Topics: communication, trust, efficiency

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