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Maister on Trust

Posted by  Mark Schenk —September 24, 2007
Filed in Anecdotes, Culture

David Maister has an excellent podcast series. Some time ago I listened to his podcast on earning trust and the useful way he provides to talk about trust and its importance to business. The first point is that earning trust must be earned and deserved; it requires you to be ‘truly trustworthy’. His construct was useful in a recent workshop where a client was exploring their vision statement to “be a trusted supplier of …” as it helped them think specifically what it meant to be ‘a trusted supplier’.

Maister identifies four dimensions to trust. The first three can cause trust to increase (if you get them right):

  • Credibility – about words – I can trust what he says. This is about tangible, professional expertise.
  • Reliability – about actions – I can trust her to do something. Are you dependable and behave in certain ways?
  • Intimacy – about emotions – I feel comfortable discussing this with that person. This is about the ability to relate to people one to one. It is the dimension that people fail on most often – it has high consequences if we get it wrong. Many people think (wrongly) that being ‘detached’ is something to aspire to.

The fourth component, self orientation, reduces trust:

Self-Orientation – about motives – the extent to which we can trust that someone cares about certain things. This relates to the extent to which we can focus on the other person in the relationship rather than ourselves. Selfishness, self-consciousness, need to appear on top of things or to appear intelligent, a long to-do list that distracts us from focussing in the moment etc are all things that keep us focussed on ourselves rather than the other person.

Earning trust requires us to be good at all four dimensions. And, of course, it doesn’t just relate to business.

Mark Schenk About  Mark Schenk

Mark works globally with senior leadership teams to improve their ability to communicate clearly and memorably. He has been a Director of Anecdote since 2004 and helped the company grow into one of the world’s leading business storytelling consultancies. Connect with Mark on:

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