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.

2 replies
  1. Mark Hanson
    Mark Hanson says:

    I’ve been using this analogy or concept for 10+ years.  It resonates with people and whether they live it or not people get it.  In the long run givers get.  One thing in life that is overlooked by many is if you take a few minutes to invest time in others – “how was your weekend,” “what’s new around here,” “what’s new with you” and remember what you learned it can be pretty powerful in the long run.
    Mark Hanson

    Principal Test Manager, Microsoft

  2. peter vajda
    peter vajda says:

    When I first started graduate school many years back, a mentor told me, "When you invest in others, they’ll invest in you."  I’ve never forgotten his advice. What I’ve learned over the years, however, from doing personal work, is that the investment needs to come from the heart and be authentic, honest and sincere to create real trust and trustworthiness. Not a "giving-to-get" type of investment which is most always experienced by the other as fake, phony or insincere and hardly ever generates true and real trust or trustworthiness.


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