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Trust and Trustworthiness

Trust and Trustworthiness

Trust! A word we hear so often in various scenarios in life. From couples in love to friends at any time, between family members to a husband and wife, there is always a need for people to be able to trust the other person or people that they constantly associate. Trust is said to be immensely difficult to build and takes time while it can be shattered ever so easily. In fact, trust is known to be one of the finest attribute that can make or break any relationship or any friendship.


What then is the place of such a personal and emotional concept in an organization? Where does an attribute that builds bonding and affection between individuals on a very personal level – where does that come into perspective in a professional scenario? Trust as a concept is highly sought after and talked about and intended to be implemented in any place where teams exist in an organization or one needs to work with other teams or individuals.


In fact trust is imperative in almost any working scenario where there is an interaction between two people. Do we know that the other person is telling the truth? Do we know whether we have all information or any is left pending? Are we sure that the other person is competent and skilled in what they are doing? Whilst we are following, can we believe that the leader has our best interests in mind? When we are leading, can we rely on the team to rally forth behind us wherever we go? These are the kind of questions, the kind of scenarios, where trust, single handed can make the difference between a yes and a no.


But wait a minute, you would ask! Aren’t the answers to all the above questions supposed to be yes anyway? Don’t we just need to trust each other no matter what, because we are a team? What choice do we have anyway but to have to work together and learn to grow that level of trust? It may take a little time but I know that I need to trust the other team members or the others in the organization. It is because of these thoughts that many of us miss out on one of the simple and fundamental aspects of trust building. Yes, agreed that we have to trust the other person, it is a given – but having said that, we fail to ask the other question – what is the other person doing to make us want to trust him / her???  


Let us now turn this situation and question around and ask ourselves from the other perspective. Yes, agreed that our team members, peers, superiors ad subordinates have to trust us, it is a given – but having said that, we fail to ask the other question – what is it that I am doing from my side to ensure that I am trustworthy???


As one thinks of the above question, there arises another very relevant question – what is trust composed of? How does one build trust? Yes, one needs to be reliable, consistent, and dependable and honest, but what really are the major components or ingredients of a trustworthy individual? One way to look at this is the following equation:


Trust = Reputation X Behavior


Let us understand these 2 words independently first and then look at how the correlation tends to enhance or reduce trust.


Reputation: Reputation is many a time combined with other words such as image or character, etc ad most often than not, is used to talk about the beliefs or opinions that we generally lay out about anything or any person. For the same of our understanding for being trustworthy, one’s reputation comes from not only just people’s beliefs about that person but also based on a certain track record of the person. For example someone with a qualification or experience in an area is reputed to be a subject matter expert in that area. Reputation is the image that an individual holds at work – from knowledge and competency levels, to their experience, to how they look at situations to how others have seen them perform one’s competency or reputation helps one to be more trustworthy. So, we need to constantly work on enhancing our knowledge and skills and keep learning as a continuous process so as to continue to build an environment of trustworthiness in the organization.


Behavior: Behavior is almost always simply defined as anything that one says and does. Any words or actions from the individual tend to reflect and define that person’s behavior. Many a time people tend to form judgments on one’s attitude by looking at one’s behavior when in fact it is not important for us to know the attitude or the reason behind the behavior than to concentrate on the impact of the behavior. A one’s behavior stays consistent over a period of time, an individual is considered more and more trustworthy.


Reputation and behavior work dynamically together as a combination for trustworthiness. A one’s reputation grows, people expect consistency in behavior and as the consistency increases, people respect the reputation more, thus generating a positive atmosphere for trust!


Today, in organizations across the world where individuals work in virtual teams and sometimes do not even meet each other for a long time, trust and trustworthiness plays a very critical and important role to keep the teams emotional bonded and consistently productive with least interpersonal conflicts and problems. One needs to know the image one is projecting to others whilst also ensuring that their behavior is consistent with that reputation.


Maintain your reputation! Project consistent behavior! Be trustworthy…

You have the power!



Revathi Turaga is an International Trainer and Inspirational Speaker. She can be reached at


July 21, 2013 - Posted by | The Hans India Newspaper, Uncategorized

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