How To Develop Trust and Faith in Others

Author: Thomas C. Weiss
Published: Sunday 11th January 2015
Summary: Trust is the expectation of fair exchange, an authentic connection, one that communicates understanding.

You may understand what another person has said, yet do you have the ability to rely on their promises? Can you yourself be trusted? Trust means relying on another person, confident of your expectations of them in relation to future events. Trust is the expectation of fair exchange, an authentic connection, one that communicates understanding. Trust is congruence between what someone has said and what they have done.

Trust implies depth and assurance of feeling often times based upon inconclusive evidence. Confidence frequently implies stronger grounds for assurance. Rely implies complete confidence. Dependence suggests reliance on another person having greater power.

Gullibility refers to a blind trust, one that is misplaced or unfounded. Cheating or betrayal describe a broken trust. Suspicion is a lack of trust. Manipulation describes behavior that takes place prior to the establishment of trust. Reputation is the history of trust behaviors accessible from past transactions. People user reputation information to help set expectations for future transactions, it eases exchanges of valuables while reducing risk.

Trust forms the basis for social interactions, particularly reciprocity and the agreements for future actions needed for planning and working together. Trust is one of the strongest predictors of a nation's wealth; nations with the lowest levels of trust tend to be poor.

Levels of Trust

While we meet other people, spend time with them and establish a relationship we understandably estimate just how much we can trust them. We approach each person starting with our natural inclination toward either trust or distrust. As we learn more about each person, mainly from first-hand experience, we have reason to trust them or not. The other person is; of course, estimating how much they can trust us. It may be revealing to estimate for each of your friends, co-workers, acquaintances and contacts the level of trust you have in them and they have in you. Trust levels fall roughly into one of the categories listed below.

Wary: We do not yet have evidence of another person's trustworthiness, so we are cautious and are not willing to extend them the full benefits of the doubt. We also understand the value of extending trust. We are alert and on guard as we find out more information about the other person and work with them.

Quid Pro Quo: Quid Pro Quo; something for something, is an exchange agreement that concentrates narrowly on a transaction, many times without regard for the broader trust levels of the other person. It might refer to a narrow agreement to conduct business among parties that distrust each other – at times rather strongly.

Distrust: We have reason to believe another person cannot be trusted. We have evidence or maybe just a sense of their indirectness, unreliability, deceit, unfairness or carelessness. Maybe the other person has already betrayed us or those we know. The person's reputation is not good and we are consistently on guard with strong defenses alert in order to protect ourselves.

Transactional: We have been interacting with one another for a period of time and have not been let down or disappointed. It seems; however, the transactions form the basis of our relationship and we are unsure we care and connect with each other as concerned human beings. The trust is situational and depends on continued benefits of the transactions. If the transactions disappear or become less favorable, the trust disappears with the transactions. The relationship is temporary and instrumental, it ends when the deal is done.

Optimistic: We do not yet have strong evidence of another person's trustworthiness, yet we are generous and willing to extend them the benefit of the doubt. The other person has a favorable reputation that we continue to evaluate as we work together. Each kept promise increases the level of trust we have in another person. We continue to proceed with caution; we trust and verify. The more difficult it is to keep a promise, the greater the increase in trust we have in another person. Trust is tested most when you are most vulnerable. Broken promises quickly lead to distrust.

Unconditional: We have established a human bond and truly care about each other. Even if our material or tangible interchanges end or become burdensome, we continue to care about each other and can rely on each other. We have gone beyond reciprocity and attained grace where good will and even favors that are unmerited characterize the relationship. The trust has been tested and withstood our disputes, vulnerabilities, hardships and other difficulties. The trust is unconditional and based on empathy and a lasting human bond. The relationship is deep, genuine, committed and permanent.

Intent and Ability

Trust is dependent on two independent components – intent and ability. Unless you intend to fulfill your agreements and keep your word, there is no trust. Intent; however, is not enough – you must have the ability to deliver on your promises, something that requires the ability to do what you have promised. Since no one can be expert and capable in all areas, we are all specialists.

Our trust in another person's abilities; therefore, is limited to their areas of expertise. We trust a doctor with our health, but not to repair our desktop computer. Do not promise more than you can deliver, or tempt others to promise more than they can deliver. Do not confuse intent with ability, address each one independently.

Earning Trust From Others

Choosing your behaviors can help to earn the trust of others. Express yourself authentically and speak accurately, carefully, clearly and honestly in order to gain and sustain a full and accurate common understanding. Understand what is being described, proposed and discussed. Understand the expectations of other people, risks involved, issues you may encounter, changes that might happen, what you are agreeing to, other people you may need to rely on, as well as your preparation and ability to meet commitments. Establish and maintain clear expectations. More ways to earn trust from others include:

Proceed in stages, commit only as far in advance as you have the ability to clearly foresee and plan. Proceed with step-wise refinement of complex issues or extensive plans. Reassess and re-plan as information is revealed and becomes clearer.

Do not make assumptions or gossip. Innuendo and rumors, unverified information from unreliable sources, can rapidly destroy trust. Instead of spreading rumors or being influenced by innuendo it is best to challenge the source and obtain all of the facts to get the full story.

Manage risk; foresee risks early and take steps to reduce the uncertainty and impact. Always keep, 'Plan B,' up to date. Work transparently and keep others up-to-date on issues and progress. Allow others to observe the progress of your work and involve others in key decisions. Expose any hidden agendas, vested interest, or sources of influence.

Ensure both grace and truth. Provide authentic, proportional and timely feedback expressing your careful and thoughtful assessment – both positive and negative, of the issues and relationship. Accomplish the task as you strengthen the relationship. Demonstrate and express your appreciation of others as you reaffirm your commitment to strengthen a meaningful relationship. Confront and resolve conflict so obstacles may be identified, resolved and overcome. When being critical, talk to people rather than about them. Never make, overlook or tolerate an ad hominem attack.

We trust people most who are similar to us and who genuinely care about us. We trust those with substantial yet not invulnerable power. Exposing vulnerabilities increases trust because it demonstrates human qualities. In addition, exercising restraint by showing compassion instead of taking advantage of exposed vulnerabilities demonstrates trust.

Mistrust Is Costly

Along with the vast sums of money spent every single year on national defense budgets, mistrust has a number of other costs. For example; missed opportunities. We are often times wary when we meet a stranger for the first time. We often approach people we first meet with caution and at times even alarm, fearing the other person may be untrustworthy. We miss opportunities to meet new people, explore interesting subjects, innovate, create, collaborate and discover new friends because we are cautious. Other costs of mistrust include:

Theft: Fraud, cheating, deceit, distortion, slacking off, waste.

Disrespect: Ignoring, sniping, discounting, humiliation, disloyalty, retaliating.

Security Systems: Metal detectors, guards, safes, surveillance systems, encryption, locks, spam and security software.

CYA: Recording evidence of your trustworthy behavior. Effort devoted to looking good. Choosing image over substance.

Complexity and Delay: Reviews, investigations, approvals, audits, double checks, duplication, surveillance and bureaucracy.

Deniability: Avoiding creating records that might provide evidence of poor decisions or unwise actions; withholding information.

Obstruction: Failing to assist other people. Dragging your feet when you could be helping others succeed. Engaging in mischief.

Defensive Actions: Complex contracts, legal fees, review time, effort and expense, investigation time and expense, litigation time and costs, rework, inflated costs or time estimates.

Suspicion: Doubts, anxiety, anguish, reservations, uncertainties, contingencies, conflict lack of commitment, disengagement, apathy, micromanagement, hesitation or calculations.

Swindles: Trusting someone who is not trustworthy is the basis of con jobs, swindles, rip-offs and ploys of all kinds. Getting taken by these schemes is financially costly as well as emotionally humiliating.

Dissatisfaction and Disengagement: Participating is no longer enjoyable, people look forward to leaving the relationship or organization. Enthusiasm decays into complacency and malaise. People first leave mentally, then physically.

Manipulation: Trying to control people without letting them known of your intentions; blather, deceit, bogus issues, obfuscation, intimidation, swashbuckling, in-fighting, busy work, playing games, cross purposes, getting even, back stabbing, gotcha, entrapment, speculation and covert operations.

The Extension of Trust

When should you trust others and when do you choose not to? Do you approach new relationships from a stance of suspicion, or one of trust? How extensively do you have to observe another person's behavior before you have reason to trust or distrust them? How strongly does the other person reciprocate and reflect your trust or distrust of them?

Consider both your desire to trust as well as your reasons to trust. Use good judgment to find the balance between suspicion and gullibility. Trust breeds trust; approach new relationships assuming good will and trust until careful analysis proves it is unwarranted. Respectfully require; however, due diligence and do not be gullible whenever the risks are unacceptable. Manage risk, balancing the certain costs of distrust with the potential cost of gullibility.

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