Do you consider trust as something you have or don’t have? Do you give the same level of trust to everyone and at all times? If you are really aware you will notice that you expect everyone to trust you all the time while you give varying degrees of trust to everyone else. Trust is important because the feeling of having it or not having it affects behavior, critical thinking, creativity, speed, likeability, energy, and overall happiness. In other words, the trust levels in your organization can dramatically affect your company’s culture or harmony, employee engagement, and employee retention, and if you have problems in those areas then I am certain you cannot be maximizing growth and profits.
Trust Is An Attitude
It is critical to realize that trust is an attitude that reflects your belief system. Our beliefs lead to our actions, and these actions cause results. When you distrust someone or they distrust you, all interactions are different than they would be if there is trust. So if you as a leader have a prevailing belief system of mistrust then it is imperative that you address this issue immediately.
What Trust Factors Should You Consider?
In a relationship, people have “free will” and use it to choose whether they will give trust to another person. They do so with the expectation of receiving a mutually desirable outcome and that the other person will act with the right intentions.
Realistically, to give trust, a person must be willing and prepared to suffer a loss. Often things do not go as hoped, yet, as long as intentions were appropriate by all parties we should not stop trusting the other party because we did not like an outcome. With that said I also do not think one should give trust blindly and often these key factors are not considered:
- A person’s past experience with you and/or your organization
- Experience with the matter at hand
- Someone’s attitudes about trusting others in general
- The number of factors controlled by the person/organization being trusted to deliver outcomes
- Perceived cost in terms of time, energy, and/or money that an investment of trust may be putting at risk
What Level of Trust Do You Offer?
All trust is not created equal. In John Maxwell’s work on this subject, he identified the following levels:
- Contractual Trust: Trust exists only to the extent that things are explicitly agreed upon. You only trust what people state in formal agreements.
- Tentative Trust: People earn trust by proving themselves. Full judgment is reserved to future behaviors.
- Cooperative Trust: When this level of trust pervades a partnership, each member actively seeks ways to further understand the other and reconcile differences.
- Unconditional Trust: Unquestioning faith is placed in the values, intentions, actions, and decisions of another.
Know Your Level of Trust
Knowing the trust level is crucial to understanding how to interact with others. Developing cooperative and unconditional trust amongst customers, employees, vendors, and others can definitely be a performance accelerator. Decisions can happen faster, and complexity can be reduced. However, it is common for people to get sloppy with each other. They take the trust for granted and fail to explicitly agree upon things where appropriate. People may act differently from expectations, causing the trust level to drop to a “tentative” or “contractual” level. Lastly, in instances when you feel that trust has been broken, get the facts. Oftentimes I am amazed at how quickly trust can be lost completely in unjustified circumstances.
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