Trust is an essential element that determines the success of alliances and partnerships. Even from a broader perspective, trust is an essential element in the success of any relationship. When coaching clients on their journey to successful alliances, sooner or later the trust element comes up. In the Alliance Masterclass, there is even a particular moment where I bring it up.

If trust is so essential for every relationship, why do I need to bring it up and talk about it, you might think. Would behaving in a trustworthy manner not be second nature for everyone? Unfortunately, it is not. For many people, there is too much self-interest involved. Their trustworthiness goes as far as it suits their purpose.

I am part of a few committees that consists of volunteers. Over time I have learned that there are two kinds of people volunteering. One group consists of the people that volunteer for the greater good and have the common goal in mind. They want to contribute their effort to the cause involved. The other group is the group that is part of the activity, because it serves their own purpose. It looks good on their resume, or they try to use the committee to bring their own message to the world. Working with these kind of people is difficult. They are very reliable in serving their own purpose and you will recognize them by seeing where their priorities are. Overall their trustworthiness is very low.

For some, however, lack of trustworthiness is not directly connected to self-interest. These people are simply too busy. They say yes to everything and seem to forget that their day only has 24 hours. They are reliable in the sense that you will learn that what they say they will do, does not match with what they actually do. These busy people will often not follow through on their own suggestions. It manifests in simple examples. For instance, I know of people who are notorious for suggesting to have a coffee meeting to catch up and who will never confirm a meeting. In that respect, they are very reliable.

What can you do to increase your trustworthiness?

In the first “self-interest” example, it will be difficult to change with only some simple tips. If self-interest is your motivating factor, then change is difficult. You can ask yourself whether the venue you have chosen is the most effective one to serve your purpose. Better yet, if you really want to change, serve your self-interest differently: find help and start working with a coach.

In the second situation, where you are committing to too many things, you can start by making a list. Simply keep track of what you are committing to and keep track of when you are delivering on your commitment. It is a kind of looking in your own mirror. You might like what you see, but chances are it is more of a wake-up call. Secondly, start saying “no” more often. It is the start of a change in behavior, and it will change your trustworthiness. It will allow you to do what you say you will do!