The basic elements of trustworthiness are contained in the Trust Equation.
T stands for trustworthiness—how much the buyer/client trusts the seller, or consultant.
C stands for credibility—it speaks to words and credentials. R is reliability—how others perceive the consistency of our actions, and our actions’ connection with our words (integrity). I is intimacy—how secure or safe the client feels sharing with us.
The lone term in the denominator is Self-Orientation, and it has a double meaning. Partly it’s about selfishness. Are we client-centric for the sake of the client? Or client-centric like a vulture?
But Self-orientation is also about our attention, our focus. Are we listening to do a brain-suck, just to get data to pursue our own hypotheses and ends? Or are we listening to truly hear the client? Are we obsessed by our own desires to succeed or win, and by our insecurities? Or do we truly focus on the client, paying attention to whatever it is that helps them succeed, or makes them insecure? Only the latter builds deep, long-term relationships.
High numerator scores build trust: a high score in self-orientation destroys it.
Most of us lead with the first two factors—credibility and reliability. These are quantifiable, and “rational.” Consultants overrate these as the “obvious” virtues—so do clients. Clients aren’t comfortable “confessing” that they have feelings, intuitions, instincts and chemistry. They don’t want to reject someone based on “we just didn’t have a good feeling for you.”
But most humans—including clients—buy from the heart, and justify it from the head. That means the Intimacy and the Self-Orientation factors are very powerful in buying.
Rational thinking (including C and R) are about defining benefits and payoffs. But any expected value must be discounted by the client’s confidence that they’ll get the results promised. The I and S factors speak to this. Can I collaborate and be honest with this person—and he with me? Does she actually care about me and my company, or are we just means to her ends? The I and S factors in the trust equation represent the “Kentucky windage” that every client applies to their estimation of stated benefits, to get their true net expected value.
Watch Video: Charles Green on Trust Equation