Did you know that the typical internet user is twice as likely as others to feel that people can be trusted? Facebook users are the most trusting of all.  A typical user is 43% more likely than internet users to feel folks can be trusted.  They are three times more likely to trust people than non-internet users.  One of the reasons for this is because it increases the brains release of oxytocin when people connect.

TRUSTDepositphotos_52019517_s-2015-copyOxytocin as been referred to as the “cuddle hormone” because when it is released it fuses an unshakable bond between nursing mothers and their babies.  It creates empathy, generosity, and trust.

Now these are very subjective criteria for trusting or building trust. But when coupled with more objective components they show that trust is not as simple as we imagined.

Trust use to be “don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal”.

These are good for starters, but they don’t tell the whole story.

  • Trust is different than integrity.  It’s more organic in nature because you can earn it or lose it.
  • Integrity is what you are, whereas trust is a feeling or perception you have about someone or something.
  • Trust is also very natural.  We want to trust others.  You can see this in young children.  They naturally trust. They learn to distrust.

There are 2 basic kinds of trust.

  1. Personal Trust.  This is based on faith in someone else’s integrity. Are they reliable?  Do they meet deadlines?  When the pressure is on can you count on them?  Are they honest? How is this demonstrated?
  • Hang a lantern on your problem.  In other words, when you make a mistake admit it. How many times have we seen that what kills people in business, politics, and athletics is not the mistake, but the cover up? What is the private lesson we can learn from public examples?  Admit the issue right away.  It doesn’t make the problem go away, but it does reinforce trust.
  • Practice “positive discretionary behavior.” This is a big phrase that simply means you are a nice person.  You are benevolent and kind.  You are polite.  You hold the door open when you see someone struggling to carry something in.  It’s not enforceable.  You don’t have to do it.  Both on and off the job you do more than is expected.  We trust nice people more than we do the “it’s not my job” crowd. These behaviors are saying, “I’m nice.”

  • Vulnerability is another aspect of personal trust.  You risk getting hurt by being open. But people are prone to trust those who choose not to self-protect. We trust those who aren’t afraid to show their vulnerabilities. There’s an attraction we cannot resist.

Personal trust is important.  But there is also…

  1. Expertise Trust.  This can include personal trust but it is different.  Expertise trust relies on someone’s specific ability.  Is this person competent?

I once had a very nice guy install a stereo system in our home.  He was nice, fair, kind, and even showed vulnerability.  There was just one problem. The house system has never worked right. 🙁  If the competence is lacking, the consequence is that your trust decreases.  This is true of professors, doctors, pilots, landscapers, and any other professional.

When these categories are combined with our neurological make up, the issue is more complex and more powerful than we first imagined.  Humans have a natural need to trust.  Not being able to trust is an unnatural place for the human psyche.

And when we choose, consciously or unconsciously, not to trust someone, it triggers a negative neurological sequence in the other person.  On the other hand, research has shown that when people feel trusted, that in turn makes them potentially more trustworthy.

Trusting is a verb. Trustworthy is a noun. The more we do the “verb”, the more we get the “noun.”

How does it work?  The oxytocin level is increased in a person’s brain when they feel trusted.  This in turn makes them become more trustworthy. Guided by their values and moral principles, people will still behave  in a trustworthy manner. Yet they are more motivated and even potentially more trustworthy when they feel trusted.

Trusting your children or employees has the potential of increasing their trustworthiness.  It’s true on a conscious level because they appreciate the respect you are showing them.  But it’s also true on a deeper unconscious level as the “trust” hormone is released.

Everyone is talking about the human growth hormone (HGH). Let’s include the human trust hormone (HTH) in the conversation.

What attributes do you look for in a person you trust? Do others see those same attributes in you?