In our seminars, when we ask the participants “What is trust?” there is a long When do we trust?silence as folks think of how to define something as esoteric as trust. When we ask how trust is built, they offer a bit more, but still with hesitation. When we ask how trust is destroyed, people answer very quickly — and vehemently! We may not know how to define it, but we know it when we see it...and especially when we don’t.

So, when do we trust someone? What four elements need to be in place before someone says to us:  “Yes, I trust you” or even more importantly “Yes, I will do as you ask because I trust you”?

1.  Credibility, demonstrated through knowledge of one’s chosen subject area as well as a history of delivering on promises;
2.  Transparency, demonstrated by openly sharing motive and personal agenda;
3.  Rapport, built through informal and non-directive interaction;
4.  Common Focus, built through dedication to a shared goal.

Reflect on your relationships at work. Who do you trust, and why? Who trusts you, and how do you know they trust you? Which of the four elements have I neglected in my work relationships, and what can I do to build more trust?