There are several similarities between trust models. Most propose building blocks of trust and suggest how to become more trustworthy. Many trust models overlap. They generally include: being capable, being honest in word and action, being open and caring about impacts on others.

Summary by The World of Work Project

Similarities Between Trust Models

The concept behind most trust models is that there are specific traits that help increase a person’s trustworthiness. By focusing on these traits and improving them, an individual can become more trustworthy.

The models often contain broadly the same building blocks for trust, though of course all have their own names. In this overview we focus on three models: Blanchard’s ABCDs of Trust, The Trust Equation and the Five Dimensions of Trust in Sales.

It is our view that these three models are all saying broadly similar things. In essence, to be trustworthy an individual needs to be capable, honest in their words and actions, emotionally open with others and caring towards others. We explore these broad headings next. And, luckily, there are some simple things we can do to build trust.

Being Capable

Being capable is the first of the similarities between trust models that we’ll explore.

To be trustworthy about about a specific subject, particularly in the world of work, an individual needs to be able to demonstrate understanding of the subject and capability to perform tasks associated with it. In many industries capability can be evidenced through education and experience.

In many instances we depend on experts.

If individuals cannot demonstrate capability in relation to a specific area, then there is no reason to trust their views or advice in relation to this subject. 

Honest in Word and Action

To be trustworthy in relation to commitments they have made, individuals need to be honest in both word and action.

They need to do the things they’ve said they’d do. They also need to do them when they said they’d do them and to the quality they committed to achieve. If their words are dishonest, or their actions don’t reflect their words, then there is no reason to trust them.

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Being Emotionally Open

Two hands holding representing being emotionally open, one of the similarities between trust models.
Sharing and caring are important.

Being emotionally open is the third of the similarities between trust models that we’ll explore.

To be trustworthy in relation to thoughts and feelings an individual needs to share their own emotions. They also need to acknowledge, and respect, the emotions of others. This is all part of emotional intelligence.

If they only operate at an unemotional, impersonal and transactional level, we find it hard to understand and predict their actions, which makes it hard to get to know and trust them.

There is some crossover between this concept of being emotionally open and some aspects of authentic leadership.

Caring About Others

To be trustworthy to the extent that someone is willing to depend on them, an individual must demonstrate care and consideration for others. They must also not pursue their own self-interest at the expense of those they value. If they don’t demonstrate lack of self interest, we won’t trust them.

Overlaying Some Trust Models

We said at the start of this post on the similarities between trust models that we would focus on three core models: Blanchard’s ABCDs of Trust, The Trust Equation and the Five Dimensions of Trust in Sales.

Below we’ve pulled together the core elements of each of these models in a diagram. We think it demonstrates how all the models fit into the high level framework we’ve outlined above.

A diagram showing the similarities between trust models

Learning More

Trust is an important component of many organizational cultures. Where trust is higher, people tend to have more psychological safety and fewer social threats. You can read more about the relationship between trust and social threats.

As a result employee experience is better, as is employee engagement, and employees are better at feedback. This is part of the reason so many team building activities focus on increasing trust.

Trust is also something that plays into our emotional intelligence. Understanding our emotions, and the emotions of others can help us build trust. Showing vulnerability also helps us build trust.

You might enjoy this podcast on emotional intelligence:

The World of Work Project View

Trustworthiness is a great thing to aspire to and the various trust models that exist provide a good framework for considering the building blocks of trust.

It’s our view, though, that being trustworthy is about much more than just following a model like a check-list. These models are very helpful, but just doing some of the things in them isn’t enough.

Trustworthiness is a way of being more than it is a way of doing things. Trustworthy people have a set of internal values, beliefs, morals or philosophies that result in trustworthiness. To really become trustworthy, individuals need to address these underlying factors and develop a way being of which trust is a by-product.

In other words, aiming for trust isn’t enough on its own. To use one of our favorite analogies, trust is the bit of the iceberg that is visible. To really become trustworthy, you need to develop the bit under the water as well.

See our posts on psychological change or personality and character ethics for more information.

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This post on the similarities between trust models has been based on a series of influences, each of which have been referenced in their respective sub-posts. Please refer to those for more details.

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