Building Higher Trust 84 The Transactional Nature of Trust

To experience maximum trust with people we know, we need to be aware of the transactional nature of trust. Everything that happens between us will have some impact on the level of trust.

It is important to build trust constantly through our words and deeds. Sometimes we will encounter a loss of trust. We need the equity of past trust-building transactions to withstand an inevitable letdown. Here is a true story from my past that included a trust transaction.

Exchange with a subordinate

George came into my office and closed the door.  He was a manager reporting to me, and we had a relationship of high trust. My division recently combined with another division to form a larger organization. George started to tell me some unflattering things about one of the managers I was inheriting.

Rather than my trust in George going up, it went down that day because he was undermining a peer.  I told him that I would rather not deal in gossip. It was better to give the new manager a chance to start out with a clean slate.

How trust transactions work

As we interface with people in daily activities, our level of trust with them goes up or down constantly. Trust increases or decreases depending on the transactions happening between us. This adjustment includes email, phone calls, and even body language in a meeting. Any interface creates an opportunity to modify the level of trust.

Exercise for you

Seek to pay more attention to the transactions you have with other people today. Notice the small things that happen which have a positive or negative impact on trust. Learn to read the body language of others. It allows you to read when something you have said has made the level of trust go down.


Trust is never static. It is always moving depending on our assessment of the Five C’s of trust. They are:

  1. Character
  2. Consistency
  3. Competence
  4. Congeniality
  5. Care

We can witness these things easily in other people, and it is the basis for the trust level we have. Also, realize the other person is making similar judgments of us. Trust is an ever-moving target. Make sure you are always doing things to build rather than destroy trust with other people.


Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust.  He is the author of The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, and Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind.  Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations



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