I was on the plane yesterday from New York to Seattle. It’s a breakfast flight. The menu has three options: French toast, omelette, or cereal with banana.
The woman next to me—healthy, casually but not inexpensively dressed, a bag full of intellectual reading material—I peg as a clear cereal-banana candidate. She does not disappoint.
When they bring her plate, it’s sugar-covered cereal—with two sample-sized boxes of raisins. No banana. Her disappointment is palpable, though not enough to make her rude.
“What happened to the banana?” she plaintively asked. The flight attendant shrugged her shoulders with that tilted-head fake smile, and said, “Sorry, that’s all they send, so that’s all we can give.”
I told her I felt her pain. “It’s not the banana per se,” she mused. “Though I do think they’re far better than raisins on cereal. It’s just that they promised—it said so right on the menu, that I’d get a banana. And I didn’t. If they’d said raisins, I’d still have chosen the cereal. But they promised bananas. And then didn’t deliver.”
The Trust Equation
Trust doesn’t just happen. It is the result of one party trusting, and the other being trustworthy. You can get better at trusting, and you can get better at being trustworthy. The second is less risky, and generally easier (though in the end you need to do both to increase trust).
So let’s talk trustworthiness: and let’s talk The Trust Equation.
You can break down trustworthiness into four components: Credibility, Reliability, Intimacy, and Self-orientation. I’ve talked elsewhere about the components—how they work, which is the most powerful, frequent, etc.
For this post, let’s just stick with which is easiest.
The Easiest Ways to Improve Your Trust Quotient
Improving credibility can take a long time; gaining credentials, earning degrees, publishing, getting references, learning presentations and speaking.
Lowering your self-orientation is a life’s work—it’s hugely powerful to be able to focus on others in times of stress, but easy? Not that one.
Intimacy can actually be gained quickly: for example, learning to comment on another’s evident feelings at a moment in time. But most people find that feels risky. So, easy? Well, maybe not.
Arguably the easiest trust equation component to improve is reliability. Say what you’re going to do—and then do it. Just do it.
If you print that you’ll serve bananas—then have them to serve. If you might ever have to say yes we have no bananas, then never say it in the first place. Nobody, but nobody, wants to hear your excuses for no bananas. We just want the bananas. You promised.
Low reliability is a form of lying; lying made worse because it’s a lie of action, not just of words.
The great news is, it’s not all that hard to fix. It doesn’t take years to develop a track record. No shrinks required. And it doesn’t require all that much in the way of emotional risk.
Just say what you’ll do, and do what you say. How hard can that be, eh?
Note: You can take your own Trust Quotient, or TQ, by going to the TrustQuotient page. And, starting Friday, having hit 10,000 takers of the test, we’re adding a new feature. The core trust quotient part of the assessment test will remain free, but we’re introducing a new Trust Styles option: there are 6 distinct trust styles, each with differing characteristics, strengths and weaknesses. We’ll charge extra for that option. Check back with us in a day or two to explore this exciting new option.