By Dean Whittaker

Can I trust you? How often do we think this thought as we go through our day?

In Steven M.R. Covey’s book, The Speed for Trust, he points out the role that trust plays in our lives, especially in our relationships.  He says that trust begins with ourselves and moves outward through our family, community, country, and world.

With the media focusing our attention on the latest scandal in politics or business, we begin to doubt our ability to know to whom to give our trust. Our courts are jammed with distrust, broken promises, and failed relationships. Terrorism has caused us to doubt our government’s ability to protect us and the war in Iraq has caused us to doubt our government.

Without trust we pay a heavy “trust tax” in terms of the time and cost. The added travel time at airports, the time spent negotiating detailed contracts, and our current banking crisis all result from the lack of trust and are examples of the extra cost we pay for low levels of trust.

What if we could dramatically reduce this friction in our relationships by significantly increasing the level of trust in and around us?  What difference would it make in our lives?

So how do we establish, extend, or restore trust?

Who do you trust and why? I trust people who demonstrate integrity by consistently doing what they say they will and producing results. While character is important as reflected in integrity, trust also requires competence, which is skills, ability, and a track record of results.

Let’s start with ourselves. Building credibility requires us to set goals and achieve them and to keep our commitments (or re-negotiate them when we can’t). In our relationship with others consistence builds trust. The alignment of our values with the organization’s actions builds trust.  The reputation our organization has in the marketplace reflects our “brand” and the trust that our clients, investors and others put in us.  Creating value for others through our contribution allows us to “give back,” creating trust within our society.

To learn more, I highly recommend picking up a copy of  The Speed of Trust, also available in audio books.