Growing trust relationships with the trust equation (1 of 5)

A manager I coached last year found and gave me very valuable business contacts recently, on his own initiative. When I thanked him for his kind introductions, he said it was his pleasure (we will study this response one day), and gave me two additional gifts, first a description of the Trust Equation, then a wonderful compliment that I had his trust. If you had never heard about this equation, you’re in luck. I hadn’t either, so I investigated a bit and as usual pondered the “what with that?”. Enough said. The formula goes like this:

T = [C + R + I ] / S


  • T is the trust you generate in your interactions
  • C is the credibility you project through your words
  • R is the reliability you exhibit through your actions
  • I the intimacy you create through emotions
  • S the self-orientation you demonstrate

If each factor is graded from 1 to 10, you may have a score as 1 (least trustworthy) and as high as 30 (most trustworthy), with most people floating in mid-waters. Now, a score of 3 might characterize a very credible, reliable and personable self-serving bastard, or a hard-trying but unreliable and incompetent angel, so the true worth of this formula does not reside in the number itself, but in the build-up. Your potential for growth will come from your knowing the trust factors and applying yourself to what (mis)behavior is pulling your trustworthiness up or down. So let’s look at these factors and how to become better at generating trust.

  • C – credibility is the spawns from words that can be believed, when you know your stuff and tell the truth
  • R – reliability is built on the grounds of well structured, clearly explained plan of action (“People-hear-what-you-will-do”) and on time on target delivery (“Then-they-see-you-do-what-you-said”)
  • I – intimacy grows with confidentiality (“They-trust-you-will-keep-what-they-said”). I would add emotional tuning (“People-feel-you-understand-them”) and bonding (“People-feel-we-are-alike”) 
  • S – self-orientation manifests through greed (“me-want-more”), selfishness (“me-before-you”) and self-preoccupation (“me? me! my concerns! my priorities! my agenda! what will they think/say about me? me…”)

In the next few posts, I will try and summarize how to be perceived (and truly become) more credible, more reliable, how to create more intimate relationships and put our natural self-orientation in check.

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