Two Traits that Help Build Trust

Welcome to the next installment of the Leadership Vision Podcast where we share our expertise in the discovery, practice, and implementation of a strengths-based approach to people, teams, and culture.

On this episode of the podcast, Linda Schubring and I talk about two traits that help build trust. Our thinking on this has been shaped by a book many of us on the team have read called, “No One Understands You and What to Do About It” by Heidi Grant Halverson. It’s about how our everyday interactions are colored by our subtle biases which distort how others see us and also shape who we see them. Or put another way, it’s about understanding perception and judgment. One of the key quotes in that book is ”we judge other people by how we perceive them. But we want to be judged by our intentions.

This, as Linda and I will discuss on the show, is connected to trust. More specifically, we talk about the elements of warmth and competence as they relate to trust.

What is Trust?

According to, trust is a “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” I also found an article in Psychology Today written by a cognitive scientist and Ph.D., Paul Thagard. What he says about trust is this:

“Trust is a central part of all human relationships, including romantic partnerships, family life, business operations, politics, and medical practices. For example, if you don’t trust your doctor or psychotherapist, it is much harder to benefit from professional advice.

Paul Thagard

He goes on to suggest five other definitions for trust:

  1. Trust is a set of behaviors such as acting in ways that depend on another.
  2. Trust is a belief in a probability that a person will behave in certain ways.
  3. Trust is an abstract mental attitude toward a proposition that someone is dependable.
  4. Trust is a feeling of confidence and security that a partner cares.
  5. Trust is a complex neural process that binds diverse representations into a semantic pointer that includes emotions.”

In short, trust is about you doing what you say you’re going to do. But how do I know you’re going to do what you say you’re going to do? How do I trust that my accountant will finish my taxes on time, or my mother-in-law will pick up my son from school, or my boss, Brian, will pay me at the end of the month? On this episode of the podcast, that’s what Linda and I will discuss, as it relates to warmth and competence.

What is Warmth and Competence?

Simply put, warmth is kindness. Warmth is smiling in meetings and expressing genuine care and curiosity about those you interact with. This may come across as overly simplistic but I think we can all think of people who come across as “chilly.” How trusting do we feel towards them?

Competence, then, isn’t just about what you can accomplish, but how you can add value. It’s about follow through and an ability to receive feedback and change course as needed. These two things go hand in hand with building trust.

About The Leadership Vision Podcast

The Leadership Vision Podcast is a weekly show sharing our expertise in the discovery, practice, and implementation of a strengths-based approach to people, teams, and culture. We believe that knowing your Strengths is only the beginning. Our highest potential exists in the ongoing exploration of our talents. Subscribe to the Leadership Vision Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.

Please contact us if you have ANY questions about anything you heard in this episode or if you’d like to talk to us about helping your team understand the power of Strengths.