Tag: trust equation

5/9/11 “Building Trust”

Good day, team.

Last week, a client of mine sent me the following sentiment: “You would be a good person to be with in a foxhole.” I think this is one of the best compliments I’ve ever received. It means much to me to be seen as reliable and trustworthy, and these words could not have said that any better. So I decided this week’s challenge would be about trust and how we gain the trust of others.

I’ve had an opportunity to share the trust equation with many of you over the years, but I will mention it here for those of you who are not familiar with it. Basically, it says that trust = reliability + competency + intimacy, divided by self-orientation.

When an employee at eBay first introduced this equation to me, I was put off. The notion that trust could be reduced to a simple equation seemed impossible to me. How could you take such an emotional subject and use math to describe it? But over time, I’ve turned my thinking around. Much about this equation is spot on in terms of how we learn to trust the people we work with.

When getting to know the people, we first tune into how reliable they are. It’s as simple as seeing that they routinely show up on time for meetings. Or maybe if they are going to be late, they send a text or call to let you know that they’re running a bit late. Either way, we begin trusting others by seeing how reliable they are.

Second, we want to know that our co-workers can do what they say they can do. That’s competency. If I say I’m a coach, am I capable of doing my job? When you work with other people on a team, their abilities are key to the team’s success, and you want to know that they can do the job they’ve been assigned. If not, the entire team suffers.

The third component of the trust equation is intimacy. This part is tougher to define but my view is this: Intimacy develops when you know someone has your back and you know he or she won’t speak poorly about you when you’re not around or when the fur starts to fly. Intimacy grows when you know you can meet with someone one on one and tell each other the truth, no matter how bad it sounds or how embarrassing the situation. This kind of emotional intimacy between team members is irreplaceable; it creates a bond between people that is worth its weight in gold.

So, if these are the components of trust, what does “divided by self-orientation” mean? Self-orientation, as stated in the trust equation, refers to the way a person orients him- or herself in relation to the team as a whole and each team member individually. Team members who are totally self-oriented are focused on their own individual benefit. These people are only in it for themselves and their personal gain. They really don’t care about the team or their fellow team members. As long as they get what they need, they’re fine. This phenomenon will break trust in an instant. Even if a person is reliable, competent and able to be intimate with you, you will not trust him or her if you have an inkling that he or she is only doing all these things for personal benefit. Conversely, if someone is not always reliable or competent or isn’t able to be intimate, we will trust him or her if we believe that in their heart of hearts, they really want what’s best for their fellow team members.

All trust is challenged over time. So, how do we ensure that the trust we build remains a constant in our friendships and working relationships? We do this by coming back to the trust components that reaffirm the relationship. We remain open and willing to have the hard conversations. We tell the truth, no matter what it sounds like. We reach out and ask for help when we need it. We continue to respect each other by being willing to come back to the table, whether we agree or not, and listen. We ponder what our co-workers propose even when we are opposed to what they’re saying. We do not speak poorly about them with others. We are not afraid to let them know how much we care about their well-being and how happy we are to be on the same team with them.

This week, think about who’s in the foxhole with you. When things heat up, who’s right there with you? Who’s willing to stand by your side when you’re not popular or politically correct? When you’re suffering through a difficult time with a project or another co-worker, who’s willing to listen to your woes and able to be honest with you, even if you have a hard time hearing it? Look at your own reliability, competency and intimacy factors. Are you trustworthy? Do others see you as a team player, someone who lives the phrase, “all for one and one for all”?

We were not put on this earth to be alone. Our ability to trust each other is a key component to our happiness as human beings as we try to live together. Work to be reliable and competent and then extend yourself to others to create intimacy. You may just find that as you do so, others will trust you even more.

Have a good week!

Kathleen Doyle-White
Pathfinders Coaching
(503) 296-9249

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