Trust, what is it and what is it worth? I asked that question of a national railroad company executive some years ago and the immediate response was it is worth a million dollars. They did not mean that literally but they did mean that our trusting relationship was priceless and monetarily worth a lot to our mutual and individual business interests.

Several trust equations exist but there is one I especially like from The Trusted Advisor (October 2000) by David H. Maister, Charles H. Green and Robert M. Gailford:

EquationC credibility
R reliability
I intimacy
SO self-orientation

That is trust is greatest when the focus is on the other person versus your self-interest. That can be a fine line to walk as we all have self-interests. However, to listen, orient on, empathize with and understand someone else’s interests can open up honest and open discussions that expand ones thinking and opens the opportunity for the resolution of issues. This also serves to alleviate fear that either side is going to be taken advantage of. This usually develops an appreciation from the other person that their interests are important and respected even if resolution does not completely satisfy the interests of both parties, which it rarely does. And sometimes, middle ground is found that furthers the interest of all parties. Such is the value of trust.

“Because a thing seems difficult for you, do not think it impossible for anyone to accomplish”.

-Marcus Aurelius

Maister, David H., Charles H. Green, and Robert M. Galford. The Trusted Advisor. New York: Free, 2000. Print.