Different elements of ‘Trust’


The word trust comes from the German word “trost” which means comfort. Trust is having the confidence or faith in another person to do what they say they will do. It means believing in the honesty and the reliability of that other person. Trust is a core component of any relationship and a crucial factor in leadership. There are fifteen core components of trust. These are:

Competence. This is how well you “appear” to be at you given job or task. Imagine going to a dentist’s office for a tooth extraction and the dentist has to refer to a step-by-step guide on how to remove your tooth. Doesn’t make you feel too comfortable does it? Likewise, you can also be seen as an incompetent friend or lover too. You can be seen as competent by projecting confidence and having knowledge of the subject.

Respect. In order for trust to be established, one needs to respect the boundaries of the other person. This agreement creates a solid foundation upon which further agreements can be built. Respect should be independent of whether or not you like the person. You can despise the person for what they are, like with a serial rapist or child molester, but you need to give them respect as a human being. Perhaps half or more of the people you deal with on a daily basis you wouldn’t care to know on a personal level, but that does not mean that your personal feelings about that person should cloud the amount of politeness and respect that you show them. Respect builds rapport which creates trust.

Patience. People don’t enjoy being rushed through things. Patience equals comfort and comfort facilitates trust. Giving a client ample amount of time to think things through rather than pressuring them to sign the contract is an example of using patience to build trust.

Appearance. You have to look the part if you are going to establish immediate trust with a person or client. If you walk into the office of the financial advisor you want to hire to help plan your financial future and he is dressed in woman’s lingerie; would you hire him? Your appearance creates the environment for trust to occur. If you are engaged in business then you must look professional. If you are looking for trust in a relationship, then you will have to dress to match their lifestyle.

Positivity. We all know the person who complains about how crappy his life is and how he hates the world and everything in it. This attitude is counterproductive to trust. People want to hear positive things like future goals and dreams because that inspires them and they can feed off that positive energy. Always be positive in life and you will find that it is easier to establish relationships and build trust.

Responsibility. There are no perfect people out there in the world and everyone makes mistakes. People know this and understand that it is part of the learning process of life. Trust is built on the basis that you take responsibility for your mistakes in life and learn from them and do your best to repair the damage caused by the mistake. By denying responsibility for the mistake or projecting the blame away from yourself, you are essentially telling people that you haven’t learned from the mistake and that you won’t help to repair the damage and that it will probably happen again in the future.

Listening. People have a desire to be heard–for their ideas to be shared by other people, so an easy way to build trust is to have an open ear. Let the person talk to you about their life and the stuff that is important to them. This will have a reciprocal factor of drawing you into their lives and building trust.

Empathy. This is your ability to see the world through their eyes by “walking around in their shoes.” Empathy reduces the level of tension between both of you and facilitates trust building through mutual understanding. (Refer to next chapter for more on empathy.

Honesty. You want to be truthful in both your personal and your professional life. Honesty facilitates trust building by letting your counterpart know that what you are telling them is truthful and genuine. A trusted relationship is one where the person will risk making the other person upset by telling him something that they may not want to hear if they know it will help them out in the long run.

Good communication. In order for trust to blossom in any given relationship, there has to be a good line of open communication between parties. Good communication involves making sure that your ideas are accurately “faxed” over to your counterpart and that miscommunication is avoided. This involves exchanging information between each other and over-communicating rather than under-communicating. It means telling the person how you feel and transmitting your interests, values, and goals so the other person can understand you better. Good communication involves the ability to openly discuss conflicts and issues that are inevitable on the road towards relationships. The other part of good communication is being able to read and speak good body language. You want to be sure you are sending nonverbal language that is consistent with your spoken words.

Common interests. Having shared interests provides you with a forum upon which you have a basis to talk and exchange ideas. The more interests you share the better. Common interests are the best way to meet people because it’s something that both of you know and it’s something that both of you enjoy.

Enthusiasm. This is your level of motivation to making things work out. People want to be around other people who are motivated to forming healthy relations. If you meet someone for the first time and they give you the “shrug-off” or are looking around the room while you are talking to them, then that does not convey much enthusiasm to continue talking to them. However, if you meet a person and they take a keen interest in what you have to say by actively listening and maintaining good eye-contact, then you feel like they are enthusiastic about you and your life.

Loyalty. A trusted relationship is one where you can count on the other person being faithful to their word. A person who is loyal always holds their end of a promise. They have a high level of integrity to do the things that they say they will do.

Security. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, people have a need to feel safe and secure in their environment. You want to help facilitate that need for security by projecting yourself as a safe and comforting individual. You can do this by presenting yourself as non-threatening, intellectual, responsible, and empathetic.

Self-sacrifice. Self-sacrifice is one of the most important components of a trusted relationship. Does the person sacrifice their own resources to help you out, with little or no gain for themselves? If situation becomes you against them, will they turn on you to save their own skin? You would be surprised at the number of close friends you have who would push you into the fire in order to save themselves.

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