What is Trust? The 7 characteristics of trust.

TRUST. It’s the magic dust in business. Teams that trust each other achieve amazing results. So how do you build a trusting environment?

It’s easy to say; harder to do.

To help foster a trusting working relationship, you first must understand what exactly is “trust”.

I believe there are seven basic characteristics of trust:

  1. Trust is respect … You will trust someone if you believe you will be treated well by them. That is, treated in a good or reasonable manner, or in other words, with respect. This does not mean being excessively gushing. But it does mean team members not being bullied or blamed. And having a safe space to contribute without fear of repercussions.
  2. Trust is time-dependant … Trust needs to be built up from consistently positive experiences over time. Some individuals may initially give others the benefit of doubt, but as people get to know each other, their experiences will either confirm or confound their trust. You always therefore need to earn people’s trust. Through good times and bad, the team need to support each other in order for trust to grow.
  3. Trust is circumstantial … You may trust a loved one unreservedly with your life, but you are unlikely to go that far with a business colleague, no matter how close the relationship! Trust is rarely blind faith. In a team you will be expecting someone to behave in a manner related to the business.
  4. Trust is subjective … Each person is different. Some will trust everyone almost immediately. Others will take a long time to trust you. It will often depend on how good a judge of character you are (or think you are) – is the person trustworthy? And diversity is good for all teams. Best to accept and again respect people’s different outlooks, and continue working to build that trust.
  5. Trust is human … It depends on rapport and people getting along. You are more likely to trust someone you see as honest and authentic. Team members need to be themselves and interact in a natural human way. People will not trust someone who says one thing and then does the opposite. What you say should be what you do.
  6. Trust is reciprocal … You need to show trust in other in order to receive it back from them. All team members need to trust each other. But it is for the leader to literally take the lead in this. There is a power imbalance in teams which means a culture of respect and trust needs to come from the top.

So there you have it. Trust will not work for everyone, but people will more likely trust you, if you in turn trust them, if you treat them consistently with respect, and if you behave with honesty and authenticity.

But what of the seventh characteristic? Well … trust is precious … Once lost, trust is very hard to recover.

I hope you find this useful. If you have any comments or need any help with improving your business processes then do get it touch.

Categories: People


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