The Trust Equation

Trust underpins relationships, and relationships underpin business. Good business is built on good relationships, but we rarely look at how we build good trust.

This is important as when we think of trust and what it means, we quickly realize it encompasses many things. We use the word “trust” to:

  • Interpret what people say
  • Describe behaviors
  • Decide if we feel comfortable sharing information
  • Indicate whether we feel other people have our interests at heart

The Trust Equation

This is a good model to understand, assess and build trust on a two-way basis.

The Trust Equation uses four objective variables to measure trustworthiness. These four variables are best described as: Credibility, Reliability, Intimacy and Self-Orientation.

We combine these variables into the following equation:


The four variables include:

  • Credibility – this focuses on what we say.
  • Reliability – this focuses on what we do.
  • Intimacy – this focuses on the feelings of safety or security that we feel when we entrust someone with something.
  • Self-Orientation – this is the extent to which a person’s focus is on himself/herself, or on the other person.

To increase trust you need to either increase the numerators, or to reduce the denominator, or both. Trust, as such, is personal.

Use this tool to assess the level of trust you have between yourself and a colleague, or a customer or partner. Try it from your perspective, and then try to look at the level of trust from their perspective. How do they differ and why? Where are they similar and why? What do you need to do to improve your Trust Quotient score with them?  How might they increase their Trust Quotient score with you?  In short, what do you both need to do to improve your respective levels of trustworthiness?


  • For Credibility, Reliability and Intimacy: Score them out from 1-10 where 1 is low, and 10 is hi
  • For Self-Orientation: if the focus is of the person is on himself/herself then score it high, and if it is on the other person then score it low.

From this you can score a maximum of 30 ((10+10+10)/(1)) to a minimum of 0.3 ((1)+(1)+(1))/10)).

In the example below there is a score of 2.625.  Although there are strong scores for Credibility, Reliability and Intimacy the denominator, Self-Orientation, reflects that the individual is more focused on herself and her interests than those of the other party.  In short, to improve her trustworthiness she needs to be more focused on the other person.


Use this for yourself.  What does it tell you about what you have to do, with whom, and how?


To find out more and discuss this and other ways to improve leadership effectiveness and organizational performance further contact Andrew Cooke (MGSCC), call Andrew Cooke on +61 (0)401 842 673 or

You can also find further insights and a wealth of material on business and leadership on Andrew’s other blog – Growth & Profit Solution Blog. There are also a large number of resources at his Blue Sky GPS Website, and these can be found Blue Sky GPS Resources.

About Andrew Cooke & Blue Sky GPS (Growth & Profit Solutions)



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