What is trust? First, think of someone you do not trust. How do you feel when you think about him or her? What do you believe to be true about this person? Is it someone who lied to you, tricked you, or took advantage of you? Or is it someone who just comes across in a way that sets off your radar—something feels wrong, out of place, or too good to be true?
Slick, high-pressure, manipulative sales people set my teeth on edge and make me sprint for the exit like I just spotted a raptor in aisle nine. Four hundred glistening teeth in a put-on smile, pats on the back like we went to grade school together, and easing up into my personal space until we become conjoined twins are clues to me that the guy I met five seconds ago may not have my best interests at heart.
Trust has to do with belief. It is what you and I believe to be true about another person. It is what others believe to be true about us. Beliefs have to do with perceptions, which may or may not have anything to do with reality, but carry the weight of conviction. What does it mean to trust? What do we say about a trustworthy person?
- I trust you to be reliable—that you will keep your word.
- I know you will not deceive me—that you will always tell me the truth, even if it hurts me to hear it.
- I believe you can do what you promise—that you have the strength to deliver.
- I have confidence in you—that you have cared enough to prepare and are able.
- I know you will keep me safe—that you would never intentionally hurt me.
- Most importantly, I am convinced that you have my best interests at heart—that you will never use me for your own, selfish purposes.
How do people feel about you and me? Are we trustworthy?
Trust is easiest to define in terms of things. My Honda is reliable and starts every time I turn the key. These bathroom scales have, unfortunately, never been wrong. This rocking chair is strong enough to hold me and my sweetie. Water will always turn to ice in our freezer. My underground shelter will keep us safe in this storm. But things have no heart. With people, trust gets to the heart of the matter.
In short, we are confident a trustworthy person is caring, consistent, competent, and candid.
Outstanding business owners and leaders focus on building trust with everyone: employees, customers, lenders, investors, vendors and suppliers, strategic partners, and even competitors. Why? Because trust is the lubricant that enables smooth, positive, friction-free human interaction. Trust is a requirement for sustained high productivity.
You and I must work hard to be caring, consistent, competent, and candid.