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  • mattheelan

The Trust Continuum - Where do you start?

Where are you on the trust continuum when you meet new people or join a new organization? What informs your decision as to where to start on the continuum? On one end of the continuum is distrust and on the other end is blind trust. Neither one seems to be a good starting place but we have to begin somewhere.

By extending trust you are placing yourself in a high-risk situation that could have significant negative consequences. On the other hand, beginning the process of trusting someone could have significant ROI and pay serious dividends. How do you then avoid the failure of trusting someone but ensure the positive outcomes associated with a highly trusting relationship?


In my experience, I try to balance my own past experience (good+bad) with people and organizations against things that I can analyze and then validate. The mistake that I have made in the past is that I have made some dangerous assumptions about who the person was, what their values were, and not understanding what was motivating them. How can you appropriately analyze and validate these things when meeting new people/partners or joining a new organization? I typically will do background checks and interview all of their team members before making a decision. I’m Joking!!!

Let’s start with some good questions:

  1. What is the opportunity (situation or job to be done)?

  2. What is the risk involved? - What are the possible outcomes? - What is the likelihood of the outcomes? - What is the importance and visibility of the outcomes?

  3. What is the credibility of the people involved?

If you could get these answers in the early stages of a new relationship do you think you could move further on the continuum toward trust or reducing risk?


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