The Trust Equation

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, Trust is the firm belief in the integrity, ability, or character of a person. Trust is an important, powerful quality to influence and work effectively with others in business, work, and our competitive lives. In fact, the level of trust in all business relationships is the most significant determinant of success.

However, the level of trust we carry can be subjective and difficult to measure. The Trust Equation is a framework that, although not exact, attempts to quantifiably guide us towards building more trust.

There are 4 factors that impact our Trustworthiness: Credibility, Reliability, Accessibility, and Self-Orientation. We can control and influence all of these factors by ourselves, with hard work, not chance or luck, and therefore increase our trustworthiness coefficient. Those with a high trustworthiness coefficient are top performers, influential, and heard by their constituents and decision-makers.

The factors

Credibility is about how we are perceived as experts in our field. Increasing this factor is very simple: studying hard, practicing, or gaining wisdom through experience. Smarts in an area are possible to obtain with hard work.

Reliability has to do with actions and the way we execute ourselves. We can increase our dependability by ensuring we meet deadlines, deliver outcomes as expected, and keep our promises consistently. It is very important to always follow through with the deadlines, budgets, and scopes that we commit to. Limit bad surprises.

Accessibility is often overlooked, and in this hyper-connected world we live in, it can also be a difficult skill to master. It refers to the safety and security that we display and entrust to others by being there when needed consistently. It can also be interpreted as intimacy and integrity: actively responding when needed, being present, and truthfully.

Self-orientation is something that we need to have less of. Our focus must not be primarily on ourselves but rather on others, explicitly the other person with who we want to establish high trust. Adam Grant has a brilliant book, Give and Take, that is dedicated to this factor.

Relationship between the factors

To prioritize what to work on, we need to consider the relationship between those 4 factors:

To me, this is simple: I need to work hard to become an expert in my field by studying and practicing. I also give a high priority to delivering my work with high quality, on time, and overachieving expectations. Not only do these consistently, but I also must be present when needed. Finally, I always look to keep myself in check to avoid being selfish: others always come before me.

This framework is quite simple to grasp. working on those 4 factors is relatively clear and a great direction to follow. Trust in business, regardless of your role or function, requires good scores in all those 4 variables.

Happy self-development!