Trust is a tricky thing. When you’ve got someone’s trust it’s great: you can sell them more stuff, get more favors, ask for more, and generally benefit a great deal. But when someone doesn’t trust you, forget about it, you’re in big trouble.

So what do we know about trust? Turns out a lot! After years of research and 12,000+ responses to a recent trust quiz, we’ve compiled a list of the Top 8 Facts About Trust.

  1. Trust = Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy + Self-Orientation: Trust can be measured across four key factors, including credibility, reliability, intimacy and self-orientation. Credibility is all about what we say, our skills and credentials. Reliability is all about the actions we take and our predictability. Intimacy is tied to how comfortable people are confiding in us, and our empathy. And self-orientation is about ego.
  2. Expertise Does NOT Equal Trust: Your expertise in something doesn’t guarantee people will trust you. So overemphasizing your expertise isn’t always the best way to succeed.
  3. Women Think They’re More Trustworthy: Are women more trustworthy? Probably. Women certainly think they’re more trustworthy, especially when it comes to intimacy. Fair enough – women are more in touch with their feelings and definitely care more about others, but what about all the gossiping they do?
  4. Things Get Better With Age: At least that’s true when it comes to trust. People think they’re more trustworthy, and are perceived that way, the older they get. So by the time you’re 75, you’ll have people eating out of the palm of your hand!
  5. Balance is Good: People are considered more trustworthy when they rank all four trust components very close together. So the more balanced you are along the four trust components, the better. If you’re super credible but not intimate at all, trust drops.
  6. Most People Aren’t Balanced: Survey results show that most people do emphasize 1 or 2 trust components more heavily than others. For 53% of respondents to the survey, Reliability was ranked as the highest. Intimacy and Self-Orientation ranked lowest at 28%. It turns out we think we’re reliable, but we don’t want to get too close to people and we’ve got big egos! Sounds about right to me!
  7. We All Think We’re Experts: Even though expertise is the least effective strategy for gaining someone’s trust, it’s the one that people use the most often. People like to define themselves by their expertise and skills. But it looks like we’re not impressing a whole lot of people … at least when it comes to trust.
  8. Trust Can Be Taught: If you’re not trustworthy, don’t worry. You can be saved. Trust can be taught, by focusing on your weaknesses in any of the four trust components. Actually, intimacy skills are the most easily taught. We’re talking about soft skills here — let’s keep this out of the bedroom! Truth is, it’s easier to learn to listen and to empathize (i.e. intimacy) than it is to gain an advanced degree (credibility / expertise).

So now that you know the Top 8 Facts about Trust, you can use them to improve your own trustworthiness … or do a better job of faking it! Trust matters. Don’t forget it. You’ll sell more, get better jobs, find better looking dates (OK, I don’t have scientific proof on that one, but it sounds good!) and succeed overall. So get intimate, keep the ego in check, don’t focus too much on your expertise, and continue aging — and you’ll be all set!