Definition of Trust: (online course part 3)
Ken Buist
Ken Buist

Article 1 of 12 in the
Trustworthiness series


Trust and temperament

Definition of trust


Trustworthiness Quotient








Definition of Trust

A Two-Way Process

In the definition of trust that I use, in order to be considered as a Trustworthy adviser, two things need to happen:

This definition of trust does not just entail being honest and full of integrity, but requires you to be 'professionally competent' to deliver the expected outcome, consequence or result.

Trust is a currency of almost every interpersonal relationship. The deeper the relationship becomes, the more vital the part trust plays. It is unseen but it is what frees us to collaborate confidently with each other.

When we trust one another, communication is likely to be open and frequent. There is little fear in confronting issues, conflict is quickly resolved, all of which leads to a deepening of relationship.


In order to understand trust better, it is good to define what we mean by trust. My definition would be:

"To trust is to willingly relinquish control, making yourself vulnerable to someone else for a certain outcome or consequence. Trust grows as a result of positive experiences accumulated over time."

It's a sobering thought when you consider that is what we are asking clients to do with us in order for us to be considered a 'Trustworthy Coach or Consultant'.

Trust both an event and a process

Trust as an event happens at a specific time.

Think of a new boss or new members of staff. We tend to reserve our trust until these persons have demonstrated trustworthiness. During this initial period there may be uncertainty, you may vacillate from one opinion to another. However, if the relationship is going to develop there comes a time when you have to make a decision - yes, I am going to trust that person and offer ongoing trust, or no, I will not trust, as the case may be.

Trust is also a process.

A single event of trust is not sufficient to sustain a long-term trust based relationship. Trust goes through the process of growing over time. As the relationship deepens, and as there are more opportunities to demonstrate trustworthiness, so also will the trust deepen and grow. As a trustworthy advisor therefore, it is important to build a personal as well as a professional relationship with a client, as much as it depends on you.

Hard to Do

Apart from those who wish to remain independent, experience can be a reason why people sometimes find it hard to trust.

It may be that you have trusted someone in the past who abused that trust. This can lead to disappointment or even hurt. Our natural response to this is to prevent it happening again, which in turn can make us wary of trusting that person again, or trusting anyone in a similar situation.

It may also be that we were trusted and let someone down. This can lead us to question our own trustworthiness, producing a crisis of confidence. Perhaps the person we need to forgive is ourselves, so that we can move on and grow once again in the area of trust.

Next article: Characteristics of Trust

©2006 Ken Buist

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