Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Trust is in the eye of the beholder

I remember having a conversation with a colleague 6 months after the Halifax merged with the Bank of Scotland.

"You meant everything you said when we merged" they said to me.

I was a little taken aback - of course I meant everything I said - why wouldn't I and, perhaps the biggest surprise for me at the time, why wouldn't they have believed me.

At some level their response says more about the culture they were in at the time than is does me. However it also demonstrates that trust takes time to build.

We might know ourselves to be trustworthy but how do we demonstrate it to those we work with and those we wish to influence - whether internally or externally.

In Stephen MR Covey's The speed of trust he believes 'self trust' is needed before we jump into trying to achieve 'relationship trust'. Which of course makes sense - we have to be credible before we can expect others to trust us.

Self Trust

Covey identifies 4 keys of credibility that can be categorised into credibility of Character and credibility of Competence.

  • Make and keep commitments to yourself
  • Stand for something
  • Be open
  • Examine and refine your motives
  • Declare your intent
  • Choose abundance (perhaps more of this on a future blog)
Capabilities (Talents, Attitudes, Skills, Knowledge, Style)
  • Run with your strengths
  • Keep yourself relevant (perhaps something I could learn for my blogs :-))
  • Know where you're going
Results (Track record) (one I consistently forget to convey to others - although I have updated my linkedin profile to try to address this :-))
  • Take responsibility for results
  • Expect to win
  • Finish Strong
Relationship Trust

Covey identified 13 behaviours * needed to develop and maintain relationship trust. As you read through the list how many of these may be contributing to your lack of influence with those you're currently working with?
  • Talk straight
  • Demonstrate respect
  • Create transparency
  • Right wrongs
  • Show loyalty
  • Deliver results
  • Get better
  • Confront reality (wonder if you can do this too much - see latest rant on confronting unacceptable behaviour in business!)
  • Clarify expectations
  • Practise accountability (blog to follow on slopey shoulders)
  • Listen first
  • Keep commitments
  • Extend Trust 
In those first 6 months of the Halifax/Bank of Scotland merger I certainly believe I demonstrated the 13 behaviours. I wonder however if I'd spent a little more time building and demonstrating my creditably earlier on if it would have been any easier?

Trust is often seen as something you either have or don't have and forget that it's in the eye of the beholder, and therefore more action is sometimes required to demonstrate our trustworthiness to others.

What about you - any ah-ha moments?

Alison Smith
Inspiring change inside and out and demonstrating trustworthiness in all that I do

* This has been a very academic (for me anyway) statement of Covey's model. Whilst this week's blogs will be expanding on the subtleties of influencing blog, in November I will bring alive the 13 behaviours mentioned above using good, and not so good, real life examples. Any contributions most welcome


  1. Hi Alison - Great post - can I borrow what you have said with full social media goodness linked attribution for a piece I have in my mind about Character = Competence which is something I say a lot around here in networking mentoring? Thanks & very best wishes Stuart

  2. Attribution is really for Stephen M R Covey but happy to be mentioned too - will be covering Trust in business more in November using my own examples - it seems to have become a theme for the month :-).