Characteristics of Trust: (online course part 4)
Ken Buist
Ken Buist

Article 1 of 12 in the
Trustworthiness series


Trust and temperament

Definition of trust


Trustworthiness Quotient








Characteristics of Trust

Elements of trust

The subjective element

We 'feel' confident that we can trust another person. This is particularly the province of the 'Influential' type temperament that tends to make many judgements based on their feelings. It may also be the first response of individuals with a Kinaesthetic Perceptual Preference. ('Feeling' preference for 'receiving' rather than a hearing or seeing preference).

The objective element

We have examined all the facts, satisfied ourselves with all the data, yes this person is trustworthy - we are able to trust. This is more likely to be the attitude of the 'Compliant' or even the 'Dominant' type temperaments. They are driven less by their feelings and more by the facts.

The action element

Having made the decision to trust based on the other two elements, we then have to proceed and trust in some form. This could be with a task, or with a confidence, certainly in some format that would serve as a building block to a long term trust based relationship.

The reflective element

If this is a first time trust, it is good to reflect on the outcome. If the other person proved to be trustworthy and gained a satisfactory positive outcome, this will build your confidence. Over time, these positive experiences will serve to grow trust and build interpersonal relationships.

Trust is...

Accountability & Responsibility

If someone considers you to be trustworthy, then by accepting that trust you become accountable for a satisfactory outcome or result. You also accept the responsibility that goes along with it. We are responsible for delivering to expectation whilst honouring the trust that has been placed in us.

Some people choose not to trust as they wish to remain independent. Fuelled by their own self-sufficiency, they may even see it as weakness having to trust someone else for an outcome. At the other end of the spectrum are the 'dependents' who may look on a continuous basis to other people to take the lead and even design their destiny for them. Interdependency is the ideal status for the Trustworthy adviser and client. This not only fuels mutual trust but also mutual respect, mutual concern and mutual comfort.

Vulnerability and Risk

By putting his/her trust in you, clients can make themselves vulnerable to you by relinquishing partial or perhaps even total control for an outcome. This is not done either easily or lightly.

Strong emotions are always involved when we make ourselves vulnerable, only to find that trust is broken. We feel let down and usually angry with the person who betrayed our trust. If we trust someone, we are taking the risk that for better or worse they will affect the outcome. This can be particularly difficult for people with an obsessive - compulsive personality or perfectionism tendencies. They are usually very conscientious, able to do a good job themselves and find it difficult to trust others to do as good a job as they themselves would manage.

One measure of whether we truly trust someone is whether we set up a back-up plan or not. If we do, then this may be prudent, but it does demonstrate that we do not wholly trust in the first place. If they subsequently find out about the back up, they will immediately know they are not being fully trusted.

We'll look at ways of defining trustworthiness in a measurable way using the Trustworthiness Quotient.

Next article: Trustworthiness Quotient

©2006 Ken Buist

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