The Essential Element of Trust

Trust is an essential building block of any relationship. It is an assessment you make about someone. It is based on our belief in the likelihood we will get the results we believe we have been promised. Without sufficient trust, there is no solid foundation on which to build anything else.

People have different approaches to trust. Some will grant trust up front until you give them a reason to distrust. Others believe their trust must be earned through specific actions that meets their standards over time. If there is a lack of trust or the level is insufficient for the goals you share with someone, then you can use the elements outlined below to consider where trust is weak. Determining in what area trust is lacking will guide you to the appropriate action you can take to strengthen and re-build the trust level needed. There are four specific elements on which you can focus.

1) Sincerity – Consistency between what you say and what you do. It is “walking the talk.” You are willing to do what you commit to.
2) Competence – You are able to perform the promises being made within a specific arena.
3) Reliability – You are capable of performing recurrently and can successfully manage your promises.
4) Involvement/Support – You have the other persons best interest at heart and would not intentionally do them harm. You are aware
of and tuned to what’s important to the other person, and what they care about. You take action on the concerns that affect both of you. It’s an “I’ve got your back” attitude.

Trust is domain specific. For example. If your 16 year old daughter with a new driver’s license asks to drive herself to school, you would probably trust her. If she asks to drive to a Jay Z concert an hour away in the city center, you probably would not. She is not yet competent to drive at night on the highway to and from a rock concert with friends in the car. This does not mean that you do not trust her, you just don’t trust her competence in the domain of night time highway driving involving friends and a concert.

Trust requires attention and intention. Why not ask for someone’s trust? This simple approach can be very effective. It conveys sincerity and reliability. It must be nurtured. The best in people comes out when they are trusted. It is a powerful force!

This is the first of a series on trust. Stay tuned.


Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him, and to let him know that you trust him. Booker T. Washington


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