Deposits and Withdrawals at the Trust Bank

I’m going back and re-reading Chris Brogan and Julien Smith’s excellent new book Trust Agents.  At #25 on Amazon’s sales ranking, it’s “only” at 425 tonight. Look for a review upcoming on the book from this blog.

One of (many) points it re-emphasized for me was the nature of trust value creation.

How often have you said something like, “I can’t ask that question, or discuss that topic, or have that conversation—we haven’t established enough of a trust relationship yet.”

Maybe you think of trust in the way you think of deposits at the bank: you need to make enough deposits before you can make withdrawals.

But trust relationships only follow that metaphor up to a point. Trust is, after all, a relationship; it takes two to tango. One-sided “deposits” don’t build a relationship–they make a relationship uncomfortable.

If all you do is do favors for someone, you don’t create trust—you create guilt. In order for trusted relationships to work, you need to allow the other party to discharge some of the accumulated obligations that you create by being trustworthy and trusted.

If you allow the other party to do you favors—to trust you in turn—you actually deepen the relationship. Asking someone a favor—far from drawing down on deposits at the trust bank—actually builds the net trust between you.

It’s an issue of balance between deposits and withdrawals, and of activity in the account. If the balance between deposits and withdrawals is roughly equal, that’s good; gross imbalance is not good. And the level of activity has to be maintained; a stagnant account negates all the deposits.

Yes, it’s good to make “deposits” in the “trust bank.” But withdrawals are equally important. All trust “accounts” are truly joint accounts. Both parties have access to it, and both parties must play their roles.

If they do, then double-entry bookkeeping does not apply to trust accounts. Some other law of multiplicative value applies.

The trust bank operates by those multiplicative laws.