In attempting to ascertain a baseline for different levels of trust from which to work with, I was inundated with numerous seemingly conflicting ideas: "personal, paradoxical, positively correlated" (the three P's*); "community, crowd, core" (the three C's*); and "deterrence-based, knowledge-based, identity-based" (basis*) to name a few. But trust me when I say there is no universally accepted metric to definitively identify differing levels of trust. Enter the dictionary & Wikipedia:
1. reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.
Trust is believing that the person who is trusted will do what is expected; Success results in feelings of security, trust, and optimism.
Yikes, expectation! From well-adjusted folk this would sound reasonable. From someone with less than a firm grasp on the practical application of flexibility in the face of adversity we could be looking at disappointment due to cognitively distorted fortune telling or wishful thinking. That aside, I feel better about someone else's feelings of security and optimism when I'm not being held responsible for them - not that I shirk that level of responsibility, simply that feelings can be slippery, elusive things compared to reality and I try not to place myself in situations where ubiquitous results can make someone feel the opposite of what is actually transpiring. Long ago I learned that logic is a very poor defense against unwarranted feelings.
These barriers aside, trust needs to exist between people - so how best to gain trust, and perhaps more importantly, cultivate it; grow it?
Irregardless of whether its a "P" or a "C" or a "basis" view of trust, the first level is universally similar in its fundamentalism - the lowest level of trust based primarily upon rules. Rules in place to not give one party undue advantage over another, and setting guideline for expectations and results. Quantifiable metrics. Low risk, no one is harmed.
The next universally accepted level seems to be rooted in knowledge - past performance being indicative of future results and all that - which most would agree is a bit of a gamble. Thing could go awry. Things can always go awry, but we're pretending we're well-adjusted folk in this exercise and would compensate and adapt accordingly with a minimum of fanfare if it did. "P" says of this level that "trust is a higher-level relationship. The trust-creating thing to do is often the opposite of what your baser passions tell you to do." Baser passions. An intense emotion compelling feeling, enthusiasm, or desire for something. Ergo, those of us who react emotionally won't be able to sustain this level of trust without first incorporating equal parts logic into our equation. "P" goes on to say, "Fight or flight, self-preservation, the instinct to win—these are not the motives that drive trust. The ultimate paradox is that, by rising above such instincts, you end up getting better results than if you had striven for them in the first place." To trust, you have to let go. I take this to mean that those of us who rely solely upon logic are going to require equal parts emotion to make it work as well. "C" describes it as, "demonstration of trustworthy behavior" and Trustedadvisor.com says, "But trust can also make you blind because it can make it harder to see opportunities that arise outside established relationships." What is it you wish to gain from trust, and why? Is it worth the risk of missing out on something greater?
And here's where I make my usual interjection that 90% of population is capable of experiencing, based on my past findings which incorporate icebergs, pyramids and bare-assed midgets on tricycles.
So what does the final 10% of the population get to experience trust-wise? Let me tell you in a word: Risk.
A trust relationship cannot exist without someone taking a chance. If you think, I can’t take that kind of risk yet because there’s not enough trust in the relationship, check your thinking. It is the very taking of risks that creates trust in the relationship.*
It would appear throughout that trust is rife with risk. But those of us who are adept at character-building know how to successfully manage risk. Why risk it at all? Plainly, reward. I extrapolate that only 10% of us ever reach this level because a lot of the same words we've bantered about here are used in the definitions. To reach this level of trust according to each of these sources we're going to absolutely require vulnerability and transparency. No, I'm not making this up. Check this out:
- This level of trust is characterized by the parties knowing the hopes, dreams, fears, and insecurities of each other. These relationships have the highest levels of trust because they also have the highest levels of vulnerability.*
- This level of trust means that you know my hopes, dreams, goals, ambitions, fears, and doubts. I trust you at this level because over the course of time I have increased my level of transparency and vulnerability with you and you haven’t taken advantage of me.*
As for me, you can trust me to do what I say I'm going to do. I call this 'global' trust - not given to specificity alone, but applied to every instance, all the time.
The reality is trust just happens. Subject it too much scrutiny and you destroy its essence. Maybe the answer lies in striking some sort of balance and healthy skepticism.*
Beware of distrust or a lack of trust, which is an entirely different beast - you empower that which you fear.* That is to say, whatever you fear will absolutely come to pass.