Trust takes time. It’s one of those things we say without examination. Turns out it’s largely a myth.
Credibility. Reliability. Intimacy. Self-orientation. These are the four factors in the Trust Equation. Of these, we usually say that only Reliability takes time. Reliability lives in the realm of action, and because of that, repeated, consistent, predictable actions over the passage of time are required to show reliability.
But even that, on closer examination, isn’t always true.
On a recent trip I had a chance to see that Reliability can be demonstrated in a moment or two and needn’t always take time to prove. It was a taxi driver (why is it always taxi drivers who teach us so much?) who brought this point home.
A colleague and I were in Washington delivering a workshop and staying at a hotel “just across the parking lot” from the corporate center where the training was being held. Unfortunately, it was pouring rain, the parking lot was several football fields across and there were half a dozen different buildings to choose from. We knocked on the window of a waiting cab and asked if the driver would take us such a short distance, got an affirmative yes, and jumped in. And given the address, he knew exactly which building was our destination.
During the few minutes it took to get to the other building, the driver had a (hands-free) cell conversation with someone who had clearly ridden with him often and was booking an airport trip for the following day. When we got out and offered to pay, he wouldn’t take any fare but gave us his business card instead and suggested that we call him for our return trips out of Washington.
When we walked in the door, it turned out we had to go to yet another nearby address; this time an employee gave us a lift. To top it off, getting home had gotten a little more complicated: one of us was going to the airport, another to Union Station, both at different times and we weren’t 100% sure just where we needed to be picked up.
But when we were ready to organize our trips home, of course we called this driver. He’d already demonstrated his reliability. How?
It didn’t hurt that we were predisposed to like thim when he volunteered to run us across the football fields. It proved he wasn’t hungry for money or trying to take advantage of a couple of people who would have paid plenty to stay dry.
We heard him talking to someone who was clearly a long-time client. Must be reliable if a frequent traveler from the Washington area counted on him to help her make her flights on time. A big "R" there.
Finally, the business card. It suggested that he was serious about his work and made it easy for us to find him when we were ready to go.
Indeed, he found us at the new building at the right time, took my colleague to the airport and made it back in plenty of time to pick me up and get me to my train.
All of which reminded me: even Reliability doesn’t always take time.
Becoming trusted is less about logging more hours—and more about the quality of our relationships.