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  • Writer's pictureYoram Solomon, PhD

3 Ways to Think Differently About TRUST

Updated: 11 hours ago

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Trust is traditionally viewed as a static and universal attribute, often oversimplified into a binary measure of someone’s reliability. However, my approach to understanding trust diverges from this conventional view, emphasizing its relative and dynamic nature. This perspective acknowledges that trust is not absolute but varies significantly between different relationships and situations.


The Personalization of Trust

At the core of my unique approach is the belief that trust is deeply personal and context-dependent. Unlike the standard model, which treats trust as a checklist of attributes that universally apply, I propose that trust varies by individual perceptions and interactions. What constitutes trustworthiness to one person might not hold the same meaning to another, highlighting the subjective nature of trust.


Trust as a Reflective Phenomenon

In contrast to the idea that trust depends solely on the trustee, my model recognizes the importance of reciprocity in trust dynamics. This view posits that trust is not just given but also elicited through interaction. The trust you extend to someone influences how they will behave towards you, creating a cycle of trust that can either build or erode depending on the actions of both parties. This reciprocal nature underscores the role we play in shaping the trustworthiness of others, thereby challenging the notion that trust is solely the responsibility of the trustee.


Trust as a Two-Person Game

Expanding further on the relational dynamics of trust, my approach introduces the concept of trust as a two-person "game," where the level of trust is determined not just by the trustee’s trustworthiness but also by the trustor's trustfulness. This perspective emphasizes that trust is a product of both how trustworthy the trustee appears and how predisposed the trustor is to trust. It recognizes that an individual's willingness to trust can be just as critical as another's behaviors in determining the overall trust level in a relationship.


Compatibility Over Similarity

Moving away from the idea that trust is about similarity, my approach places a greater emphasis on compatibility. Trust builds in relationships where differences are not just acknowledged but appreciated, where the diverse strengths and weaknesses of individuals complement each other. This compatibility fosters a more robust foundation for trust than mere similarity, as it supports a more dynamic and adaptable relationship.


Trust in Action: More Than Just Reliability

In professional settings, my perspective shifts the focus from viewing trust as merely reliability or competence. It considers a broader range of factors including intentions, values alignment, and the mutual benefits derived from the relationship. By broadening the criteria, this approach acknowledges that trust in professional environments is multifaceted, influencing everything from leadership styles to collaborative efforts and organizational culture.


Building Trust: A Dynamic Process

According to my model, building trust is an ongoing, dynamic process influenced by continual interactions and adjustments. It requires active engagement and responsiveness to the evolving needs and expectations of the relationship. This process is not about adhering to a fixed set of rules but about adapting to the fluid dynamics of human relationships, making trust a more responsive and living concept.


Cultural Sensitivity in Trust

Acknowledging the relativity of trust also means recognizing its cultural dimensions. Trust manifests differently across cultures, influencing not just personal interactions but also global business practices. Understanding and respecting these cultural nuances is crucial for fostering trust in a diverse world, as it enables more effective and respectful communication and cooperation.



This unique approach to understanding and building trust challenges the conventional wisdom that trust is absolute and universal. By recognizing trust as a relative, reciprocal, and dynamic phenomenon, it offers a more nuanced and effective framework for navigating both personal and professional relationships. This perspective not only enriches our interactions but also empowers us to build deeper, more meaningful connections based on a true understanding of what makes each relationship unique.


Dr. Yoram Solomon

Dr. Yoram Solomon is an expert in trust, employee engagement, teamwork, organizational culture, and leadership. He is the author of The Book of Trust, host of The Trust Show podcast, a three-time TEDx speaker, and facilitator of the Trust Habits workshop and masterclass that explains what trust is and how to build trust in organizations. He is a frequent speaker at SHRM events and a contributor to magazine.


The Book of Trust®, The Innovation Culture Institute®, and Trust Habits® are registered trademarks of Yoram Solomon. Trust Premium™, the Relative Trust Inventory™, and The Trust Show™ are trademarks of Yoram Solomon.

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