Trust is one of those words that figures in so many quotes that you just know that it has to be important for some reason.
“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” Wiliam Shakespeare
“All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.” Peter Pan
In fact the author George McDonald goes as far as proclaiming that “To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.”
Now, putting aside my personal feeling that there is nothing in this world that conquers love or that can not be conquered by it the idea of trust is an intriguing concept which I have found myself pondering these last couple of days.
What is trust?
How does one gain it?
Why do we put such emphasis on this concept when we praise someone as being “trustworthy” and refute them as being “untrustworthy”?
Having arrived at what I believe is a fairly accurate conclusion I would like to outline my thoughts on the idea and hope that you can use them to build trust in yourself and your work from those around you.
What is trust?
“Trust is knowing with a very high degree of accuracy the outcome of someone else’s actions”
When I trust you with this letter, I do so because I know with certainty that you will deliver it without fail.
If by any chance I do not trust you, or the situation that we find ourselves in, I will quite probably give the same letter to two more people and hope that one of them makes it.
Trust differs from faith in the amount of certainty that we feel towards the task or situation. In fact faith is often said to be blind because it ignores reality. We might choose to have faith in a person even though our minds tell us that they are not to be trusted. Faith is from the heart, trust is from the mind.
Trust is consistency in action.
Once you understand this concept of what trust is then gaining it should be fairly simple.
“If you always deliver what you promise you will be trusted”
I trust my friend to be on time for our meeting because I know from experience that he is never late.
In other words if what you say comes true more times than not people will start to listen and you will be considered a trusted and reliable source.
This is why you need to be careful not to talk too much and beware of statements that you make, especially the black and white ones.
“It will rain tomorrow” is a very black and white statement for which you will undoubtedly be judged trustworthy or not, at least when it comes to weather.
So gain trust by saying only those things that you know to be true and never promise what you can not deliver.
So why do we put such emphasis on this concept then?
Well first of all “I have to know that I can trust you”.
When I say that I mean that I need to know that you follow the same basic standards of common knowledge as me. These might include being on time, dressing correct for the occasion, knowing how to address your superiors, and mine, as well as generally not undermining me.
But it is not just that I need to know you will not clean out my wallet when I am in the rest room, it is much more than that. It is knowing how you will react and act in most situations. In fact some people are always late and that is all right as long as I can plan for it. If you are consistently late I will simply tell you the meeting starts 15 minutes earlier then it actually does.
So trust is knowing, and most of the time knowledge comes from experience. Many times you can draw parallels from what you have already learned like ”Two times is a habit” but more often then not you simply have to spend time with a person before you know if they can be trusted.
The trick of course is not to look at the person but around them. If they are trusted by their peers and those around them with difficult and important tasks chances are that you can use a bit of that faith you have stored up and put some trust in them.