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Trust is the glue of life...

Trust is the bedrock of society, or should be. Trust can be translated as confidence in someone or something. It is so important in our relationships, whether personal or business. But trust pervades more than relationships, it is fundamental to everyday life. Stephen Covey said, ‘trust is the glue of life’. Take for example when you go to sit on a chair you have never sat on before, you look at the chair and very quickly and sub-consciously judge your trust/confidence on whether it will function as you expect, i.e. hold your weight. It is the same when you switch a light on in a room, you trust that it will turn the light on so you can see - this innate trust sense is with us all the time. It is like we are operating “unconsciously competent” as per the four stages of competence; we are not consciously aware but act upon our awareness like we do very quickly and innately with people.

Four stages of competence

(Paul R. Curtiss and Phillip W. Warren mentioned the model in their 1973 book The Dynamics of Life Skills Coaching.)

So it is important to take something we perhaps do instinctively, and further our learning using a model or analytical tool that could not only help us understand trust, but help us improve our level of trust with others.

A few years ago I discovered the ‘Trust Equation’ which Charles H. Green explains in detail in his two books, “The Trusted Advisor” and “Trust-Based Selling”. This equation has a powerful insightful approach that can help you create more trust with others, and understand why you trust others yourself.

So let’s look at each of the components:


Credibility can come simply from someone trusting that you know what you’re talking about. If you were sharing a theory about electron physics, your credibility would be higher if you were a professor at a university and had written numerous research papers. Now this is obvious, but it is the same across all areas of our life and in our interactions with people. If we are wanting an expert to help drive our LinkedIn presence then we would pay for a services of someone who is already doing this themselves, it shows that they are credible and backs up their message.

So how do we create credibility? We need to demonstrate that we are experts in our fields of work, doing it in such a way that we show we know our industry, product and service inside and out; know our organisation, customers and market place; and know the issues and challenges being faced. You may need to study further to dial up your credibility; or consider being part of a governing body to help increase credibility. Make sure you are mixing with credible others as this has an impact too. But in all of this we need to be genuine and authentic and make sure we are doing it for the right reasons – have integrity at the heart of it.


This can be evidenced in our actions. We might say, “If he says he’ll deliver the product tomorrow, I trust him, because he’s dependable”.* Are you reliable? Do you deliver on the promises you make? This is the most obvious and probably the easiest to fix and ensure you get right. We have all met the person who has said I will phone you tomorrow at X time and they don’t, then they say again they will, but they don’t; your trust and confidence will begin to be minimised each time because they are not reliable. So make sure you do what you say you were going to do – simple.


Refers to the safety or security that we feel when entrusting someone with something. We might say, “I can trust her with that information; she’s never violated my confidentiality before, and she would never embarrass me”. * The openness is created in the intimacy of our relationships; remembering that we are human, and we work with humans, despite that we are now embedded with technology. When you are sharing and being vulnerable it needs to be from a place of authenticity and with the right motive, the right intention. To create intimacy, it starts with you being open and transparent with the intent of being authentic and real.

Self-Orientation or Ego

This refers to the person’s focus. In particular, whether the person’s focus is primarily on him or herself, or on the other person. We might say, “I can’t trust him on this deal — I don’t think he cares enough about me, he’s focused on what he gets out of it.” Or more commonly, “I don’t trust him — I think he’s too concerned about how he’s appearing, so he’s not really paying attention”.* We can work on the credibility, reliability and intimacy and be totally wiped out with our big ego. This is about ensuring you are putting the other person first, you are person centred, especially in conversations that you ‘seek to understand first’ (Stephen Covey). Ensure when you post on any social media platform that you are not the centre; you are genuinely humble in your approach, not the humblebrag which we all see through.

Obviously we judge very quickly in most situations, but generally our nervousness towards someone is our sub-conscious not having all the right information for our own trust criteria to be aligned. Trust does not happen overnight, it takes time - especially online. And we judge trust according to our own reality and experience, although others can inspire you to have trust in others, although we still need to align to our own criteria.

Here is my vlog on the trust equation:

Julian Roberts

Executive Coach 

*‘Trust Equation’, and ‘The Trusted Advisor’. 

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