Who Trusts You, Trusts You Not?

Is your willingness to trust others in sharp decline?

If you said yes, you’re not alone.

According to a recent series of international studies into trust by Edelman, distrust in Ireland has grown to extraordinary new levels.

Looking at their Irish stats for 2011, just:

  • 9% of us trusted banks (up from 6% in 2010!)
  • 35% of us trusted government
  • 35% of us trusted media
  • 43% of us trust businesses

And you better believe it matters since, according to the same study:

Most Irish people (55%) are inclined to believe negative messages about those we don’t trust if just heard once or twice…

…While less then one in ten of us believe positive messages heard the same number of times!

Who ‘Do’ We Trust and Why?

So that’s the bad news in the trust stakes.

But the good news is we are willing to place faith in some people. The vast majority of us (approx. 70%) trust those we believe to ‘be like us’ and academics.


Beyond trusting our own judgment – we also place confidence in those we believe are less likely to act out of self-interest.

Isn’t that interesting?

In business circles – these are the exact same traits most of us tend to assess and value when rating people in leadership positions, speakers we hear at events or those we meet through business networking situations.

We are drawn to those we believe demonstrate integrity and show more concern about the needs of others than themselves.

Executive Communication Today Must Be Trust Centric

Of course, the Edelman statistics shared today give proof to a few truths most of us already know:

Historic deference to institutions and those of position in formal organisation hierarchies is fast disappearing and is being replaced by the need to earn trust.

And therein lies a catch.

As mentioned in previous posts:

  • Virtually every market has become more turbulent
  • Flat or lean organisations have become the norm, and
  • Cross functional teams are ever more common

All of which means the rules of engagement when persuading others are changing.

Your capacity to influence others is now more dependent than ever on cultivating an ability to demonstrate common purpose than issuing directives.

We have to prove ourselves to be more trustworthy…

…Recognizing, as Charles Green put it in a recent Forbes article on why trust must be at the core of modern leadership:

“Leaders can no longer trust in power; instead, they rely on the power of trust.”

What Are Your Thoughts on Trust?

Who do you trust? Has your attitude to trusting others changed in recent years and how has this influenced how you relate to others?

Please share your views and observations.

About Eamonn O'Brien

Public speaking master, Eamonn O'Brien is the founder of The Reluctant Speakers Club.