The Components of Trust

Monday, April 4, 2016 - 21:28

Do people trust you? It's a serious question because it greatly impacts how effective you'll be in those relationships. In high trust situations, decisions can be made quickly, there is no need to second guess a person's intentions or abilities, and the occasional miscommunication can be dealt with in a straightforward manner. Contrast that with low trust situations where decisions need to be discussed in great detail or even require lawyers to get involved. There may be a lot of mental and emotional energy wasted trying to determine if there is an ulterior motive or whether or not they can deliver on a promise. Worse yet, if something does go wrong, there can be a lot of blame thrown around, further undermining the level of trust among all parties involved.

Stephen M.R. Covey has a fantastic book titled The Speed of Trust, which I highly recommend and I will briefly summarize. The main takeaway of the book is that high trust allows for things to move quickly while low trust situations slow things down to a halt. If you re-read the paragraph above, you can probably pull many examples from your personal lives to reinforce both extremes.

To take it a step further, Stephen breaks out the different components of trust, such as credibility, capability, and capacity. These are incredibly important distinctions. You can have complete trust in someone's ability to get something done (capability) as well as their sincerity to get it done (credibility). However, if they are overcommitted to too many different initiatives, that person may still fall short in delivering the results. Likewise, a person could have the capability and the capacity, but may not be fully honest regarding their intentions, which also results in a broken commitment. Knowing these distinctions is critical because we often lump them together and experience disappointment when we place all of our emphasis on one component and ignore the rest.

So back to the original question—do people trust you? And if not, where do you fall short? Knowing the answer to that question is the first step to addressing any deficiencies and building trust with others (and yourself).

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About Rick Manelius

Quick Stats: CTO of Contact Mapping. Author of Winning the Lottery Within. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.