The Intangible Value of Trust

by Jay Deragon on 12/12/2013


Trust is an important factor in business and life. You can’t really measure it or hold it in your hand. It’s soft and fuzzy, but yet it’s real value in the mind of the people who value it. And that’s where it counts, because a relationship can only increase in value when there is trust. Without trust most relationships will decrease in value over time.  Trust is absolutely intangible but its value or lack thereof, produces tangible evidence.

The intangible value of trust gets to the heart of what motivates people’s behavior. The relationship between a buyer and supplier is only as strong as the promises made and kept whether it is in a product or service.  The relationship between an employee or contractor and an employer is only as strong as the promises made and kept. Promises between two parties usually imply the exchange of agreed upon value. When the value isn’t delivered as promised then the promise isn’t kept and trust is broken.

Trust Pays More from Keeping It than Breaking It

A promise is something that transcends a mere economic transaction, because the emotional bonds that result are stronger than any economic exchange.  Yet more often than not businesses will break a promise to customers, employees and contractors for the sake of saving money.  Worse yet they will break a promise then blame the customer, employees or contractors for having to make those decisions.  The subsequent cost of “breaking the trust bond” far outweighs any short terms economic gains made from breaking a promise.

Some promises have to change but if you established a pattern of being trustworthy, demonstrated open communications and haven’t changed decisions as often as you change your underwear then most people will understand why things need to change. Building and maintaining trust is about enabling people to feel secure even in times or situations that may seem risky. On the other hand if dealing with you or your company is a risky proposition for employees, contractors and customers then you aren’t very trustworthy.

Now, there’s nothing new in the understanding that to build a profitable, long-term, close-knit relationship with your stakeholders, you need to constantly connect on two levels, rational and emotional. One is tangible, the other is intangible. Rational is value in the economic transaction. Emotional is more about trust, caring, loyalty, respect…all the things we look for in life.

This might sound odd but trust doesn’t come from trusting yourself. It only comes by being trustworthy in the minds and hearts of others.  Ever notice how we tend to self-justify decisions we know as being selfish?  Trust is never built on selfishness.

Beware of the message you are sending with your words and actions. The intangible can become very tangible if you know what I mean.

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