The Formula for Trust

Trust is an essential part of most healthy relationships – personal and professional.  Trust gives faith – and if you are in the intangible services market, then there is often a leap in faith when clients hire you.

I recently came across an article on the principles of Trust that had an equation for building it.  Its nice to have a visual representation of something relatively abstract even if it is a mathematical formula.

I’ve made a small tweak, but the basis is still the same:

C = is for Credibility.  In business, you need to be able to “walk the talk” and prove that you can deliver the services that you offer (customer references, case studies, publications, etc).

R = is for Reliability.  Keeping to deadlines.  If you continually miss delivery dates or show up for meetings late, then this can undermine trust.

D = is for discretion.  In the original paper, this was Intimacy – but I have replaced it with Discretion which I think is more appropriate.  In any relationship you will have access to information that is private and/or confidential.  How discreet you are with that information either increases or decreases trust.

S = is for self-orientation.  An important element in building trusting relationships is the amount of focus you place on the other [person,customer,employee] for the other’s sake – not as a means to an end.  Is your primary focus them or you?

The elements in the numerator (the top) of this formula increase trust – high levels of credibility, very reliable, always discreet.

Increasing levels of self-orientation (the denominator) decreases trust.  So despite your credibility, reliability and discretion – if you are always concerned with “what’s in it for me”, then the levels of trust will be low for that particular relationship.

So if you want to increase trust in your organisation or with your clients, then make a mental note of this formula and work to increase your “C+R+D” and decrease your “S”.