FOCUS: Are They Twist Ties or Trust Ties?


Trust is more than a High Five!

Building trust is vital and required.
If you aren’t found to be trustworthy, that pretty much puts the end to having the kind of impact you want to have, whether personally or in business. While the same goes for those around you, you are the only one that can work on your own trustworthiness.

This week I read another mind-provoking article by Valeria Maltoni entitled “What Do We Do About Trust?”.  This led me to get a copy of a book mentioned in the article, The Thin Book of Trust by Charles Feltman, which I devoured in a couple hours. If you have a couple of hours (plane trip, hot afternoon on the patio, etc.) I recommend this. It is relatively short, very well written and focused on the topic in a way that you can absorb and use.

I am utterly fascinated by all of the relationship, network, cognitive and behavioral topics that surround us as human beings in our society and how they influence and guide our businesses and personal lives. Whether psychological studies into why we act the ways we do as they apply and “infect” other areas of study (like Behavioral Economics…how this influences how we actually make choices, both as business owners and consumers, and being aware of the WHY of these actions), to the kinds of thought and work that can make your business more effective, including marketing, VACC (Visitors/Audience/Customers/Community) and content research/strategies, along with the kinds of cognitive bias that keep us from being as successful and happy (…frankly…) as we can be. Much like the world of physics crawling toward The Grand Unifying Theory of Everything (not to be confused with the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything…), I feel there are a lot of overlaps and supporting science and studies that lead to A Grand Unifying Theory of How We Actually Think and Get Along.

I see trust as the core component of developing credibility in all relationships. This is a sociological truism that most agree with, but with a lack of understanding of the effort, time and resources needed to create the kind of value that trust brings to relationships. I have worked for too many organizations and professionals who profess a deep desire to building an abiding trust in the customers, internal teams or whatever other relational constructs they have before them, and then engage in mind-bogglingly degrees of magical thinking on what can be done to short circuit the trust process and get their particular construct to the level of trust they need to attain to achieve that NEXT goal – Deep sales and loyalty arrangements, cohesive teamwork that will accomplish internal miracles, take company revenue, innovation, and productivity to levels unseen before, and so on. Oh, and you CANNOT BUY TRUST….that’s called bribery, and is notoriously ineffective.

There are two things I wish to bring forward from Feltman’s book:

  • His definition of trust – The book placed trust in the context of the workplace, but the definition of trust he gives stands well for any context, really. He writes, “…trust is defined as choosing to risk making something you value vulnerable to another person’s actions.”
  • His 4 assessments of trust – His use of the word assessment is interesting to me, as they imply that these are the components we and others use to figure out if we are indeed trustworthy. In short, they are:
    • Sincerity – You are honest, say what you mean and mean what you say. You can be believed and taken seriously. He also includes the act of giving an opinion…when you give one, it is valid, useful and backed up with solid thought and data. Lastly, you walk the talk….that is, your actions line up with what you say.
    • Reliability – You meet your commitments and keep your promises.
    • Competence – You actually have the ability to do what you’re doing or proposing to do. You have all the capacity, skill, knowledge, resources and expertise to do a particular job or take on a particular role.
    • Care – You have the other person’s interests in mind as well as your own when you make decisions and take actions. Feltman writes (and I agree…) that this is likely the most important for building lasting trust. If others believe you are sincere, reliable and competent, but are not looking out for their interests, their trust in you will be much more limited to a transactional model than a relational model. The latter model is, obviously, much more beneficial to both parties and benefits all concerned in the long run.
I wrote an article about Strong and Weak Ties last week.  I mention this as a way of leaving some bread crumbs for you (and me….) to help guide us along this path to understanding relationship-building, the changing landscape of networks online, the progression from visibility to credibility to profitability (and what kinds of work lead us through that…), the considerations this presents to your VACC, how the cognitive theories actually work in this context, and what this means for your business as you build out your sustainable strategy processes and boil them down to the day-to-day.

Yeah, that’s a lot, but Grand Unifying Theories kind of do that…..cover a LOT of area.

Please comment on how this makes sense, or doesn’t, to you. If you know of other areas that could or should be included in this exploration, let me know. We’re traveling this journey together and I truly appreciate your insights.

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