Oprah and Two Trust Tests

Trust is bustin’ out all over. Or, to be more accurate, its perceived absence is creating a lot of press.

It’s one thing to become a focus for Steven H.R. Covey Jr.—but it’s yet another level of phenomenon when Oprah puts trust on the front page of O Magazine.

Of particular note is a self-scoring “trustometer” self-assessment trust test by Martha Beck.

It’s a good quiz; go take it, you’ll learn something.

There are three kinds of trust surveys: those that measure trusting, those that measure trustworthiness, and those that measure the combination, i.e. trust. Ms. Beck’s trust test measures the first—trusting.

The thrust is: how clearly can you see things for what they are, rather than as they appear through your own obscured ego-driven lenses? Your gut feelings are probably very good—unless you get in their way.

This is a good message—the ability to intelligently take risks, to trust, is a powerful thing. In the Age of Madoff, where trusting is an unpopular concept, this is a welcome reminder of the importance of trust.

So much for trusting: how about, can we measure how much people trust us?

Yes we can. If you’ll forgive the shameless self-promotion, that’s what the Trust Quotient™, or TQ™, measures—our level of trustworthiness. (To be precise, since it’s also a self-assessment, it’s our best guess about how much others trust us).

Unlike the Beck trust test, which gives you a one-paragraph “if your score was between __ and __, you are ….”, the Trust Quotient trust test gives you several pages of analysis and recommendations about the various components of trustworthiness.

Take them both: the Beck Trust test on your ability to trust: and the TQ Trust Quotient test to assess your trustworthiness.



3 replies
  1. Pierre Cerulus
    Pierre Cerulus says:

    I took the Beck test and learned something, actually a reinforcement, it always start with "I" and how much you are "self-aware".  I also wanted to share with others that the 2 tests outcomes are linked, as "Reciprocity" is playing out here.  What I mean, is….if my trust level for another person is low, it is an illusion to believe that the other person will have a high trust in me.  No the real question, I think is…..What in me is creating this low level of trust….I found this a rich self-discovey experience.

  2. Charlie (Green)
    Charlie (Green) says:

    Pierre, I think you are exactly right. 

    If I am trustworthy, I will likely influence others to trust me.  And if others trust me, it is likely to increase my trustworthiness toward them.

    Conversely: if I think I am trustworthy, but others don’t trust me, I’m probably kidding myself.  And if I know I’m untrustworthy but think I can get others to trust me, I am similarly kidding myself. 

    And as you point out, the common denominator in all this is probably ‘me,’ ‘myself,’ and ‘I.’

    Well seen and well said, Pierre; thank you.

  3. Charles Feltman
    Charles Feltman says:

    As you and Pierre are both saying, being trustworthy and trusting are two sides of the same coin. Generally, when I behave in ways that others view as trustworthy they reciprocate by behaving in ways the think I will see as trustworthy.

    On the other hand, the moment I do something another person distrusts they begin distrusting me. And this begins the disaster of distrust. In his distrust he acts to defend himself. Inevitably his actions damage my trust in him and I try to defend myself. So it gets worse: both of us are behaving in ways that others find distrustful. Distrust becomes like an infectious disease. 

    Unless one or the other of us is aware of the mechanics of this downward spiral and can do something to stop it. This seems obvious, but it isn’t as easy as it may seem for most of us.

    I think this is in large part because we tend to judge our own actions based on a belief that our intentions are always good. When we mess up and breach or betray another’s trust we tend to give ourselves a pass because our intentions were good but something in the environment outside of our control got in the way. (Cognitive psychologists call this the self-serving bias.) On the other hand, when someone else does something that breaches our trust in them we attribute it to them personally and downplay environmental causes (what the cognitive psych folks call fundamental attribution error).

    In fact, nine times out of ten when we behave in ways that damage trust it is because most workplace environments are minefields of limited time, competing commitments, opposing demands, plain old miscommunication and we are failing to pay attention to the behaviors that build and maintain trust.

    We can’t do much about the workplace environment. But we can learn what behaviors build trust. And we can practice consistently paying attention to those behaviors in ourselves.


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