Check Your Balance. Can You Be Trusted?

As the recession hits us in our wallets and bank accounts, we feel more vulnerable and less trustworthy. We find that, increasingly, we have to take more personal responsibility to secure a future that is not built on quicksand. The cornerstone of this is trust, trust both in ourselves and in others. But how much do you trust yourself? This article explores the benefits of a positive emotional bank account built on a relationship of trust.

The economic downturn has caused many to be fearful about the future. Trust that things will all work out has vanished as we face continued financial and emotional challenges. As the power balance shifts to the individual, a steady hand on the tiller of our personal lives will prove to be vital in managing both our financial and emotional bank accounts.

Take comfort in the knowledge that whoever owns the power, also owns the responsibility. And one of the key ingredients of responsibility is trust.

So, can you be trusted? Do you trust yourself? Let’s unpack some of those key nuggets on how to build trust in your life and with those around you.

One of the following scenarios may reflect your current situation:

  • Tom and Sally have three children under 10 years of age. The parents took out insurance to ensure that, in the case of an accident or death, the children would be provided for. But unbeknown to Sally, Tom cancelled the cover when they experience some financial difficulties. When he was killed in a car accident, she was left not only grief-stricken, but also financially in trouble.
  • Mary bought insurance risk cover through a direct call centre last year. Six months later she suffered a stroke, but was not paid out. When applying for cover she had not been truthful about her smoking and drinking habits and her claim was repudiated. (By the way, this story may have had an entirely different outcome if she had worked with a financial adviser whom she trusted – there’s a good argument for a face-to-face relationship when you’re making important decisions).
  • Linda and Tim have a financial adviser who has handled their financial affairs for 30 years. Tim died this past month. Through her sadness, Linda is still one of the lucky ones: she has someone to help with and even take over the financial administration, leaving her with no financial concerns, and her lifestyle will continue as before.

Australia-based author and speaker Vanessa Hall, in her book The Truth About Trust in Business , defines trust as: “The ability to rely on a person, company, product or service to deliver an outcome.”

You would be wise to be aware that your attitude can go a long way towards fostering a relationship of trust. People sense how you feel about them. If you want to change their attitudes toward you then you have to first change any negative attitudes you have about them. To build a relationship you have to build trust and trust is built through integrity and consistency.

No one’s perfect and yes, we all mess up at some time in our personal relationships and at work. A breakdown of trust occurs when we do not take responsibility for our actions. Leadership consultant and author Stephen Covey, in his book TheSpeedofTrust, explains trust as “an emotional bank account.” We all know what it feels like to be in the red and have no money. We are stressed and find ways to make ends meet until the next top-up on payday. Covey says unless we learn the lessons of debt management, we will get ourselves into more trouble the deeper into the red we get. We could lose our homes and our cars. Trust is also a form of currency and the loss of trust can be far more painful than that of a car or house.

Checklist for ways to build or break down trust

Build Break down

  • Share openly Facts are distorted
  • Loyal to those not present Blame-game and bad mouthing
  • Share expectations Information and knowledge withheld
  • Keep promises Break promises or overpromise and underdeliver
  • Communicate openly No accountability
  • Confront and deal with issues Not understanding “the needs” of others

Three-point plan

Use this three-point plan to help you build a trust account that stays in a positive balance – a vital asset to add to your set of social intelligence skills.

  1. Learn to become an effective communicator and listener.
  2. Understand and respect cultural differences.
  3. Be clear about your own needs and expectations and communicate these effectively.

And while you are taking care of your emotional bank account be sure to keep your financial matters on track too. “This will require building a long term relationship with a financial adviser you can trust,” says Liberty Life spokesman Andrew Warren. “Your adviser needs to not only know about the products he or she sells, but also be able to help you apply this knowledge. This will ensure that when you most need these assets they are available and you can draw on them with comfort.”

We all place great value on trust, but seldom work on the skills set needed to develop and grow trust in our relationships. Anything that is valuable will take time, effort and energy. Be honest with yourself: do you value trust enough to develop a trust culture around you? After all, it starts with you.