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The Absence of Trust : 4 Keys to Rebuild When It’s Broken

“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” —Steven Covey

What does someone have to do to lose your trust?

People define trustworthiness in different ways, and watch for different behaviors to determine whether someone is worthy of trust.

As Ken Blanchard says in his book TrustWorks: “Trust is in the eye of the beholder.

What does that mean? It means that you can be completely unaware that your behavior is eroding the trust of those around you. What looks like fine behavior to you could make your friend, spouse, boss, employee or constituent downright wary.”

In Trustworks, Blanchard identifies four primary categories of “trustworthiness” people use as a filter for determining who is or isn’t worthy of trust. He calls it the ABCD Model of Trust.

There are several useful insights here for leaders regarding the absence of trust:

  • People tend to assign greater value to one or two of the trust categories.
  • These are often not the same categories that you value most.
  • This means that you can break trust with someone without even realizing you’re doing it (and vice versa)—not because either of you is insensitive or uncaring, but simply because you define trustworthiness differently.

For example, let’s say your key measure of trust falls under the Able category.

You trust people who get stuff done, and do it well. But several of the key people on your team value the Connected category most. So how do you suppose it will impact them if you hold “no nonsense” meetings that include little or no time given to connect with each other more personally before diving into the work? Yep. Your team will begin losing trust in you … and you won’t have any idea it’s happening until toxic resentment and suspicion start gumming up the works of productivity.

So how can you apply this model to help avoid the absence of trust? Or to rebuild trust if it’s already been broken?

For now, though, take some time  to consider: Which of the four categories of trust matters most to you? Which category are you most likely to overlook or dismiss as less important? (Hint: This is the area where you’ve most likely broken trust with others without realizing it.)