How do you trust?

Not who, but *how* do you trust?

What do you use to make judgments about people and things that you may want to invest in and … how do other people make those judgments about you?

The clients I work with often ask me to recommend training, services, marketing, consultants, professionals, and other things that small businesses don’t, can’t or shouldn’t be doing themselves.

It’s not because they can’t find what they need. It’s because they don’t know who or what to trust.

The cult of the personality can give a false impression.

We all know people who project a certain personality. They put it on like a costume when they appear in public in order to create trust and the real person is hidden below the surface. When the personality shows up as more important than the service they offer it can be a problem. It’s easy to believe that these people are successful because they give every impression of being just that but when you dig a little deeper it’s often a different story.

Personality v Character


What creates trust is below the surface. This is the part of us made up of our principles, beliefs, and motivations. It’s hard to capture in a selfie. People with a trustworthy character have no need of masks. Their character shows most when they stand up for what they believe in, even when that makes life difficult. They don’t choose the easy path and hope that no-one notices.

I’m a big tennis fan and my favourite players are not just the people with the great game but the people who display integrity, fidelity, courage, compassion, contribution, responsibility and justice. It’s who they are off the court as well as on it that makes them people to trust and admire. Andy Murray is a great example of that. It took him years to learn how to smile but he fearlessly addresses inequality and other issues in the sport and his personal integrity is never questioned.

In business, our personal values are reflections of our true beliefs and very much shape our characters, which is why I usually base my trust on past performance or recommendations from other people whose judgement I trust*.

Character and Competence

Trust is a function of two things: character and competence. Character includes integrity, motives and intent. Competence includes capabilities, skills and track record or reputation.

In a world of selfies and sound bites it can be tempting to try to become or be attracted to a personality but what will bring the most satisfactory relationships is taking time to find people you can really trust. Trust isn’t just about a transaction, there’s always something else there too.

It takes time to get to know someone’s character but it shows in what they do, not what they say, so if you want to be trusted and find others to trust, showing up and doing things for others, showing integrity, making hard choices and not always looking to be popular are good indications that there’s something below the surface.

If you find yourself being sucked in by a shiny personality dig a little deeper and see what you find!

*Yes, I sometimes get it wrong but I usually know in my gut and kick myself afterwards!

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