This post is part of our Weekly Tips series.

The Three Ps of trustworthiness is a mnemonic device to help you zero in on three fundamental truths about trust-based relationships:

  1. Trust is personal
  2. Trust is paradoxical
  3. Trust is positively correlated to risk

When we say trust is paradoxical, what we mean is that it appears to defy logic. The best way to sell, it turns out, is to stop trying to sell. The best way to influence is to stop trying to influence. The best way to gain credibility is to admit what you do not know.

The paradoxical qualities of trust arise because 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. 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.1

1 Excerpted from The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook: A Comprehensive Toolkit for Leading with Trust

Bonus: Making it Real

This week, examine the paradox of trust-building more closely. How?

Bring to mind at least three instances when you thought a particular action would break trust and instead that action built trust. For example, you may have spoken a difficult truth and found that the relationship grew closer as a result. Perhaps you heard a colleague refer a client to a competitor, only to learn that this solidified the client’s loyalty to your organization. Examine these instances carefully. Why was trust created, rather than eroded?

Learn More


The following two tabs change content below.

Andrea Howe

As the founder of The Get Real Project, I am the steward of our vision and our service offerings, as well as a workshop leader and keynote speaker. Above all else, I am an entrepreneur on a mission: to kick conventional business wisdom to the curb and transform how people work together as a result. I am also the co-author, with Charles H. Green, of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook (Wiley, 2012).