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Be Worthy of Trust


It’s the mechanism and byproduct of social engagement. Trust and its cousin, reciprocity, were the necessary ingredients that helped our ancestors form tribes 2.5 million years ago.

Trust is also hard to define with precision, at least if you’re not an academic. It’s like the famous Oliver Wendell Holmes comment about obscenity. “I know it when I see it.”

Academics often distinguish between an expectation (of a person) and a cooperative (trusting) behavior. The former is “trust,” and the latter is more like “reciprocity,” I trust you’ll return the favor or do the thing you promised.

A big driver of trust between people is beyond our control: we tend to trust people who are like us. This is especially true for gender and ethnicity. Personality traits also play a role. Some of us are agreeable and open, some of us are not.

Other factors are in our control. Social connection helps. Assuming we don’t do something to violate trust, the more time we spend with someone, the more likely we are to trust and be trusted by others.

What’s most in our control is our “No Matter Whats.” People prize competence, integrity, and reliability in other people (and in organizations).

  1. Be good at what you do.
  2. Say what you do and do what you say.
  3. No matter what.

Have, declare, and stick to your “No Matter What.”

Your word is your bond; your code governs how you roll.