An Online Course by Ken Buist
Are you a trustworthy adviser? Of course you are!
Could you improve your trustworthiness? Probably!
Even if we have never stopped to define it, trustworthiness is something we know by intuition. Trust is more of a feeling than a theoretical concept. It is truly an emotional experience - so too is mistrust.
Philosophers make propositions to attempt measuring this faculty but the reality extends far beyond a cerebral exercise. It digs into the fibre of our souls; illuminating how we view others, our self-esteem, personal motivations, whether we have integrated past experiences or failed to come to terms with them.
An innate quality
Unless we have been deeply scarred by disappointment or abuse, we still retain a desire to find others in whom we can place our trust and establish some security.
A baby, without vocabulary, can express trust in complete strangers who take it in their arms. Equally, we have all seen babies pull a fearful facial expression, let their lower lip quiver, and yell disapproval until a parent delivers it from the perceived threat. With no language to define trust, a baby just plain knows what it feels. This simple illustration reveals how fundamental to human relationships the issue of trust actually is.
The importance of trust
For advisers and clients, trust is always high on the agenda. Having said that trust is an emotion, how would you want to define it? Before reading on, try to type a single sentence definition of what you understand trust to mean:
Your definition may, or may not, assume mutual trust. It might simply express personal trust. However, if you are to grow professionally your own trustworthiness will need to develop, find expression, be recognised by others, and become part of your reputation. (We all have reputations but rarely get to find out exactly what they are!)
Others will need time and opportunity to assess whether you fulfil their expectations, are discreet, wise, prudent, insightful, and operate at all times within the boundaries of a trustworthy individual. This is what colleagues and associates look for, and what business partners so earnestly seek. Qualifications abound and writing C.V's has become an art form.
Trustworthiness, however, requires more than a good command of dynamic language combined with the ability to study well and choose the best path for career advancement. It cannot be faked and by definition occupies a territory impregnable to short-cuts and episodic incursions.
Bearing in mind the professional need for trust to embrace trustworthiness and be a dynamic between two or more parties, perhaps you would value making some amendments to your earlier definition by broadening it to include these aspects?
Trust & trustworthiness are very personal traits. We are all born trusting, so to become mistrusting and suspicious is a learned behaviour. This change can occur for various reasons e.g., past experiences (let-downs and disappointments.)
Our natural temperament also has an influence on whether we find it easy or difficult to trust and how trustworthy we may be considered. We all believe we are and would want to be seen as trustworthy, but we are dealing with perception, and the other person's perception is their reality. Let's take a quick look at four advisers with the four different temperament types, and see how they measure up against these two traits.
If you have typed some ideas into the boxes above, you may want to print this page before you go on to the next article.Next article: Trust and Temperament
©2006 Ken Buist