Trust in relationships is vital for happiness and success. Dr Charles H Green’s formula helps us to build trust in life and work.
Credibility: relates to the words we speak
Reliability: reflects what we do
Intimacy: relates to our feeling of security when we entrust someone with something.
Self Interest: relates to whether we primarily focus on ourselves.
Increasing the value of credibility, reliability, and Intimacy increases trust, but increasing the value of self-interest dramatically reduces trust.
Implementing the framework:
Take a piece of paper and score yourself from 0-9 on each of the variables: credibility, reliability, Intimacy and self-interest. Do not use the same digits twice in calculating each trust score.
Calculate three trust scores for yourself in the following scenarios: a) at work, b) with family, c) with yourself.
Compare your trust score in the three scenarios. Where are you most/least trusted? Why? What could you do to improve your trust score in each area?
The most important variable:
The most crucial variable is the (real or perceived) self-interest. A high degree of self-interest or self-obsession destroys any chance of trust. Conversely, a salesperson with low self-interest can honestly focus their efforts on helping others - and the buyer can see the difference this makes to the relationship.
Consistency is key. It takes time and hard work to build credibility and reliability; it takes genuine care to build Intimacy, but all the hard work can be lost in an instant if there is a catastrophic incident that damages credibility, reliability or Intimacy.
We can not build trust if self-interest is high, so consistently try to help others without expecting much in return.
This framework has endless applications wherever two or more entities interact. Some examples are:
Improving longevity and health:
Trusted relationships are clinically proven to improve longevity and health outcomes. The more trusted relationships we build, the happier and healthier we are! The Trust Framework is a critical framework that also drives happiness and health.
The best salespeople don’t sell. They help their buyers buy. They look at problems and opportunities from the buyer’s viewpoint and tailor their products and solutions to maximise their benefit. Ironically, this lower self-interest often has the fortunate side effect of higher trust and significantly higher sales.
Exercise: Write out your sales pitch in words. Use a red highlighter wherever the pitch is about your interest or about you and a green highlighter where it is about the buyer’s interest or buyer. To drastically improve your pitch, ruthlessly minimise the red comments and change them into green statements. A great pitch will be less than 10% red.
Cryptocurrencies (e.g. Bitcoin, Ethereum) are designed to be highly trusted: The system ensures 100% credibility and reliability. The system is highly intimate (secure) due to the use of cryptographic technologies. There is low self-interest because the system is fully transparent, decentralised, and not run by a for-profit corporation.
The dominant eCommerce model is now a marketplace model globally. While Chinese players like Alibaba have continuously operated a marketplace model, even players like Amazon, who started as pure-play e-retailers, now have the majority of their business as marketplace platforms supporting multiple sellers.
In the marketplace model, the platform typically takes a fixed % of revenue from the seller on the platform. The seller and platform then have an aligned objective to maximise the seller's revenue. The platform creates tools to help the seller better understand their customer and operations to sell more. The platform works on innovative ways to mine data and find insights for the seller.
The more the platform can become part of the ‘daily operation’ of the seller and reduce its self-interest, the greater the alignment on the common objective to drive the sellers business and the greater the trust and growth in the system.
In practise: eastern vs western notions of trust:
Having worked in eastern cultures (China, Japan, India) and western cultures (US, Europe), I have observed a difference in how people trust.
In the West, often people build trust. You start low on the trust equation, and then you need to see a long track record of credibility, reliability and Intimacy along with low self-interest. The longer you continue the relationship, the stronger the trust. But to begin with, there is no trust, and there is a good chance of the parties feeling that it is too much effort to build confidence and the trust never being established.
Often in the east, it works the other way. You can start by behaving like you trust the other person completely. To do this, you display a high degree of interest in their well-being and minimise your needs (low self-interest). You assume that they will be credible and reliable and start sharing small intimacies early in the relationship. The other person feels trusted right away and then works very hard never to lose your trust. The relationship begins with high trust and carries on strengthening over time.
Consider using the Eastern approach more often - this can help you build more trusted relationships and lead a more fulfilling, successful and healthier life.
Trust, health and longevity: Journal of behavioural medicine
National academy of sciences: Social relationships and physiological determinants of longevity across the human life span
Loved learning about the numerator variables in the trust equation. Will try and keep it in mind.
Question about the cultural difference. I've heard you speak about the Chinese concept of Guanxi--sort of reciprocal altruism--that drives personal/professional transactions and is the force behind collective Chinese entreprenuerial success, for example. Why is it that the starting point for Western and Eastern culture broadly are "tit for tat" and "reciprocal altruism"? In a sense, reciprocal altruism is also tit for tat but with assumed positive outcomes.
On a related note, my observation would be that digital creators freely model reciprocal altruism or Guanxi. If you notice on Twitter and LinkedIn there are networks of influencers who like and comment on each other's posts and drive reach/engagement. This is rife everywhere. Assuming the original East-West difference in attitude to trust is cultural, what do you think explains explains this lowering of Western threshold for trust on digital social networks?
Love this piece Aditya, especially the cultural part; it’s on point. In my practice, I use both approaches depending on where my clients are. The one most critical factor, especially for those on the instant trust side is, “be patient.” Trust doesn’t happen over night. It takes time to build. However, once built there’s a successful platform from which to create strong bonds and top business practices. You know you’re successful when you can see your global network build and work. I have found that trust also needs to be maintained by connecting with your network and touching base with others whose trust you’ve earned. Humans need the human connection. Love this framework and the tools you provide.