The 4 Facets of Trust


Trust. Such a simple and complex word.

I don’t trust the guy in this picture.

I do trust my wife, who adores me. And I trust my doctor, who has a bunch of letters after his name. I trust Bob Goff, whom I’ve never actually met. I even trust the chair I’m sitting in, without even thinking about it.

One word, multiple meanings. I believe understanding and leveraging trust is core to leading at an exceptional level.

How are you at gaining the trust of others?

Here are four fundamental facets of trust and how to cultivate each one:

• Reliability. The most basic facet of trust is achieved through consistent behavior. If you regularly come through for others—they can count on you—then they begin to trust you. I consider this the simplest facet of trust, not because it isn’t valuable, but because it’s the same kind of trust we give to inanimate objects such as chairs, instruments, or tools.

• Competence. The next facet of trust is gained through knowledge or expertise. If you’ve established yourself as an authority on something, you’ve gained a level of trust with others. This is the trust you have with your doctor, your teacher, your mechanic—anyone who you believe knows more about something (that you care about) than you do.

• Compassion. This facet of trust is earned when someone shows genuine care for another person. For someone to make an emotional investment in you requires them to shift focus off of themselves and place it on you. This immediately generates a level of trust. Whenever someone shows sincere concern for your welfare, you tend to believe that they’re on your side.

• Authenticity. The most potent facet of trust is engendered by casting aside all pretense. If you’ve ever run across someone with no masks, no agendas and absolutely nothing to hide, you know what I mean. They have a realness and rawness that sucks you in and makes you feel more real, more alive. Trusting them seems as natural as breathing—and distrusting them seems as awkward as holding your breath.

Fail to provide any of these qualities and you’ll lose the trust of those you’re trying to lead. Likewise, to the extent that you successfully demonstrate any of them, you’ll gain a corresponding level of trust with others.

How do you cultivate trust?



7 thoughts on “The 4 Facets of Trust”

  1. Relativity evidences that the world we see is “like” our mirror. The equal and opposite effect we experience justifies what we choose to believe… and not what is actually there. If we lack trust in anything that is in the world, this but reflects the lack of trust in ourself, on the very point to which we believe we do not trust in this person, place, or thing. We tend to give inanimate objects more of our trust, because the nature of their existence (solidity) is unchanging – a chair is always being chair – what’s not to trust? But when it breaks – we also have a tendency not to blame the chair, but the chair maker.

    Animate objects are in a constant flux therefore it is harder to transcend the continuous changing in the nature of the animate to find something that is not changing to grab a hold of -this reliability factor you spoke of. When we do find something in an animate being, it becomes the basis of the relationship we build with it/them. We have established this basis in it/them and now we hold it/them accountable to what we have established as reliable. This is what is known as unreasonable expectations. When an animate being does not live up to the basis we have established; or expectaion, we lose trust – but this in no way means that this animate being actually did what we accuse them of doing – it/they never had any awareness of our expectation.

    When we can recognize this in our own heart and mind, we can recognize it in the world and compassion is born. But when we can truly overlook what was never there (our unreasonable expectations) we can be emapathetic (forgive-let go) and authenticity has become what YOU are and not what YOU expect to gain from the world. If YOU are transparent (no masks) then the world YOU see will reflect this transparency, and trust; or the lack thereof, is a non-issue.

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