Pop Quiz: Test Your Trust

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Quiz: What are the four elements of trust?

Answer: Credibility, reliability, intimacy, and self-orientation. Read more below.

Trust is the foundation for building lasting relationships. It’s all about our interactions with people. Most often, companies are described as credible and reliable sources, but it’s our interactions with people that build trust in those institutions. But how do we build trust and how do we measure it? Charles H Green, Davie Maister, and Rob Galford developed The Trust Equation to evaluate our trustworthiness in our relationships.

There are four variables to the trust equation.

Trust = Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy
Self –Orientation

Credibility refers to the words that we speak. Am I a dependable source of information?

Reliability refers how our actions correlate our words. Do my actions match my words?

Intimacy refers to our emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is our ability to empathize with others and to express our emotions. Are people open to sharing with me? Am I open to listening and sharing with others?

Self-Orientation refers to our awareness of others and us in the relationship. What is my focus for this conversation?

Let’s focus on self-orientation because it stands alone in the denominator and it is the most important variable of this equation. Unlike the variables in the numerator, self-orientation works on an inverse scale. For example, an individual with low self-orientation is more focused on the clients’ needs (client-orientation); whereas, an individual with high self-orientation is more focused on his or her needs (self-orientation).

Think about simple math here when evaluating this equation. The goal is to create the greatest value in the answer, and to do so the numerator must be greater than the denominator. So, as the values of the numerator increases, the value of trust increases, but as the value of the denominator increases, the value of trust decreases. Ultimately, the best outcome is to have a low value in self-orientation in the denominator, which results in a greater value in trust.

Here are two examples:

1) You approach a client about an opportunity to help his or her company with business development.

High Self-Orientation: You say to the client, “If you coordinate and gather a group of prospects together, I will present to the group on your behalf.”

Low Self-Orientation: You say, “Who are the types of contacts you are looking to reach? I will work to introduce your company to those contacts and arrange meetings on your behalf.”

In the first statement, your self-orientation is high because you are more focused on making this opportunity most effective for you. However, in the second statement, your self-orientation is low because you are aware of the client’s needs to make this opportunity most effective for the client.

2) You are interviewing for a new job.

High Self-Orientation: You say, “I see myself able to grow a lot with all that the company has to offer.”

Low Self-Orientation: You say, “I see that there is potential for the company to grow into a new arena and with my experience, I have ideas about how to develop and execute this new growth.”

In the first statement, you are more focused on what the company can do for you; your self-orientation is high. In the second statement, you are more focused on how you can help the company grow; your self-orientation is low.

Now it’s your turn.

Take this quick assessment to evaluate your trust in your relationships. Focus on your relationship with one client or consider your relationships as a whole. Evaluate your trust from three perspectives: yourself, the other, and the other’s view of you.

How did you score? Share your thoughts below.

For more information about the Trust Equation, click here.

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