Building Trust 101 Trust Dust

This morning I thought of a really strange analogy I call trust dust.  I want to compare and contrast the concept of building trust between people with dust. There are some ways trust and dust are similar and other ways they are opposites.

Similarities of trust and dust

Dust is always present in the air. Nearly all of the time we do not see it when it is airborne. If there would be a particularly large particle of dust, we might notice it. Also, if there was a very bright light in the room, we might see some floating particles. Normally we do not pay attention to dust until it lands. When it does land, we also usually ignore it until there are enough particles to see easily. Then we get a dust mop and pick up the pile. 

Trust is like that too. There are numerous ways we build trust with another person.  Most of these are not big enough to see consciously, but they are there nonetheless.  Once in a while, there may be a particularly large particle of trust.

For example, you might come in from vacation to support a fellow worker. That would be a large particle of trust that you can actually see. The circumstances might make it stand out so we see it clearly. 

The trust particles land next to other ones forming a kind of film. Here is where the analogy becomes the opposite.

We wipe out dust but covet the pile of trust

When the layer of dust becomes noticeable, we go get a cloth or mop and wipe it off the surface so it is clean. In the case of trust, we want the pile to become as thick as possible. We always seek to add to the pile of trust with people we know. Eventually, there may be some force that reduces the pile. For example, we may have forgotten a commitment we made to the other person.

The more trust we have on the surface, the more likely there will be some left after the force goes away.  At least that is the theory.

I like the idea of trust deposits being so insignificant by themselves that we hardly notice them until they build up into a film we can see.  That is when we have that special feeling toward the other person that becomes a bond we cherish.


Picture the trust deposits you have with other people.  Look hard to see if you can see them building into a bond of trust between you. Let the other person know you are feeling the bond of trust and see if the person recognizes it too.  I think the more visible we make trust in our lives, the more benefit we can get from it.  

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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