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Trust, the Essential Element in Building Outrageously Successful Relationships

By Ed Rigsbee, CSP, CAE

(597 words)

Trust is defined as confidence, reliance or resting of the mind on the integrity, veracity, justice, friendship, or other sound principle of another person or thing. It's also the glue that binds an organization together. Just think what you could accomplish with your spouse, business partner, alliance partner, supplier, customer or employee if you absolutely trusted one another.

In the mid-1970s, when I worked in Yosemite National Park, I took up rock climbing. This is a sport in which one quickly builds trust with their climbing buddy. In the hands of my buddy resided my lifeline, a rope that came from around his waist, threaded through a carabineer that was attached to the rock face and tied at the other end to me. While climbing, when I slipped off a rock face and started to plunge, it was my climbing buddy that locked the safety rope tight around his waist, keeping me alive. He determined if I went crashing several hundred or thousand feet onto the granite below or if I were to just dangle in the air a few feet from where I fell. In outrageously successful alliance relationships, you must be able to trust your partner with your business lifeline.

In any Partnering alliance, trust is necessary to move from inertia to action. Trust is that wonderful, mystical and cherished virtue hoped for and shared among practitioners of the Partnering Paradigm. In trust, you're continually putting yourself at risk. While most would prefer to drink from an emptied wine rather than hemlock bottle, it is the process of taking risks that is necessary to build outrageously successful relationships. At times you are certain to be disappointed, but hopefully these disappointments will be few, compared to the availability of beneficial experiences.

Trust is fragile and not to be mistreated. Jamie Clarke and Alan Hobson are adventurers. On their third attempt (1998), they conquered the summit of Mt. Everest. Prior that trip, they authored a book, The Power of Passion: Achieve Your Own Everests, about their earlier expeditions. A relationship-devastating situation occurred around fundamental expedition leadership and goal decisions that were overlooked before embarking on their 1994 odyssey. Each was dug in, and Jamie made a decision to fill a leadership void that Alan was unwilling to fill. About this Alan later wrote, “the most important element in any relationship—trust. Once trust is lost in any relationship, it is like a mirror struck by a stone. The glass shatters. Although all the tiny pieces can be glued back into position, the mirror always shows the cracks. They run deep and numerous.”

Trust building is a journey rather than a destination. Foster the following behaviors in yourself and look for them in your potential partner(s).

Twenty Trust Building Behaviors

1.      Tell the truth.

2.      Deliver on your promises and expectations of others.

3.      Walk your talk and act with credibility.

4.      Exhibit authenticity and sincerity.

5.      Be a positive roll model.

6.      Welcome responsibility.

7.      Avoid offering excuses.

8.      Present an ethical image.

9.      No Bull!

10.  Avoid gossiping.

11.  Use duct tape on your mouth when necessary.

12.  Be open; inform ahead if you cannot meet deadlines.

13.  Help others to look good.

14.  Treat everybody with respect and dignity.

15.  Be consistent in how you treat others.

16.  Recognize and reinforce performance on others.

17.  Communicate clearly, say what you mean and mean what you say.

18.  Break down barriers by giving everybody a voice.

19.  Be respectful of time, yours and others’.

20.  Follow up regularly and offer helpful recommendations through relationship value updates.

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Copyright 2001-2013 Ed Rigsbee

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Adapted from PartnerShift-How to Profit from the Partnering Trend by Ed Rigsbee, CSP, CAE, published by John Wiley & Sons, New York, October 2000. All of Rigsbee’s books are available from

Ed Rigsbee, CSP, CAE, is the author of PartnerShift, Developing Strategic Alliances and The Art of Partnering and has over 2,000 published articles to his credit. Ed travels internationally to deliver strategic alliance keynotes and workshops. When you are looking for a speaker on partnering, Ed can be reached at or visit


The Member ROI Guy: Ed Rigsbee, CAE, CSP

805-498-5720 or or Skype: Ed_Rigsbee

Rigsbee Enterprises, Inc. (Est. 1981), 1746 Calle Yucca, Suite 200, Thousand Oaks (Los Angeles area), CA 91360 USA