Want to be more trustworthy?

This equation is a simple and easy way to evaluate and increase your own trustworthiness.

If you wonder why people do not trust you as much as you want, the answer may be in this equation. It can guide you to figure out how to remedy that and become more trustworthy.

To increase trustworthiness, you can increase the words on the top part of this equation or decrease the bottom. Let’s look at what these words mean.

Credibility is about why people should listen to you. Do you have the background, the experience and expertise to credibly speak about a topic or be trusted with a decision?

Reliability is, in short, about your track record with them. Do you follow through on your promises? If you say one thing and do another, why should anyone trust you?

Intimacy is a sense of your openness, empathy and an ability to connect with others and listen to them. It is harder for people to trust someone who feels like a mysterious,      closed book. So let others get to know you a bit – too much sharing and it will start to feel like it is all about you.

Self-Orientation is about how much you are focused on yourself. Being on the bottom part of this equation means that to increase trust, you need to decrease your focus on self, i.e., increase your focus on others, on the team, on getting a good deal – something outside of just your own interests.

Let’s think about Sam who wants to be trusted by his boss to take a lead role in a new project.

He could increase his credibility by reminding his boss and other stakeholders about his expertise and experience in that type of project.

He would need to have a good track record of following through on his promises.

He may need to get to know his boss better – because people are more likely to trust the people they know.

Sam would also need to show that he isn’t in it just for himself – that he also thinks about his boss, the larger department, the project, the team, the outcome, etc. If it’s only about Sam getting the role for his own glory, it will be harder for the boss to trust him with it.

You also need to recognise that there is another aspect to building trust between two people: your own trustworthiness on one side and the ability to trust others on the other side. Next week we will look at the dynamics of being trusting or not and how this may affect your relationships.