After watching Donald Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, I found myself thinking, “He sure gives a good talk, but can I trust this guy?”


It’s fascinating how important trust seems to be when it comes to relationships.   In his seminal book, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”, Patrick Lencioni places trust squarely at the base of the team behavior pyramid.


In short, if you have no trust in a relationship, you won’t risk conflict, you won’t commit to action, you won’t offer yourself up for accountability and you won’t get results.
If it’s is so crucial for both individual and group relationships, what does it take to build trust?    And as it relates to the topic of today’s conversation, why isn’t Trump getting mine?

What follows is my criteria for fulling trusting in someone (with thanks to Hyler Bracey’s “Building Trust” and Charles Feltman’s “The Thin Book of Trust”), namely:

  • Sincerity
  • Reliability
  • Competence
  • Caring
  • Transparency

Sincerity is about honesty; it’s about telling the truth as you see it.   A sincere person says what they mean and means what they say.   When they express an opinion, it’s valid, useful and backed up by sound thinking and evidence.    When you’re truly sincere, your actions align with your words.  Internally, you check in with yourself regularly to make sure you actually believe what you’re saying.  Externally, you’re honest and straightforward to others. Perhaps most importantly, you’re consistent over time, from one person to the next.

is about meeting commitments. A reliable person keeps their promises.  When asked to do something, they respond with either 1) Yes, I’ll do it.  2) No, I can’t do it.  3) I can’t do X but I can do Y.  4) I need to check on something before I can commit (and then they actually get back to you!).   In other words, a reliable person resists the urge to make promises unless they know there’s a good chance they can actually keep them.

is about having the ability to do what you propose to do.   A competent person has the capacity, skill, knowledge and resources to do a task.   Competency doesn’t mean perfection; in fact, it sometimes means that you know what you don’t know, you’re willing to learn, and you unafraid to ask for help.

is about having another person’s interests in your mind as well as your own when making decisions or taking action.  It’s about listening to what’s important to people, finding common interests, and letting them know you understand how your actions and decisions might affect them.

is about being open, easily readable and vulnerable.  After all, who can trust a person who always keeps a poker face, their cards held closely to their chest?  A transparent person shares their emotional state; they share what they’re thinking and feeling. Most importantly, they share their own worries and fears.

So let’s see how Trump rates on these 5 criteria:

*Sincerity: The Donald seems to believe his own rhetoric, which is good I suppose, although I’m not convinced that his ideas are always backed up by sound thinking and evidence.    Like many politicians, he tends to play fast and loose with statistics.   Nor has his consistency always been rock solid.       Grade:   B

*Reliability: During his acceptance speech, Trump positioned himself strongly as a do-er.   Time after time, he proclaimed, “When I’m President, I’ll do X and I’ll do it fast, I promise you.”   Whether he can back up his guarantees awaits to be seen. Certainly he made a LOT of promises, with very little in the way of specifics, which undermines my trust.    Grade:  C

:  Trump and his team claim that the candidate has “transferable skills”.  In other words, although he has never held public office, the Donald suggests that his experience as a billionaire business will transfer smoothly into his role as the leader of the free world.  Again, this is a story yet to be told, although I have my doubts.  Trump has certain advantages coming into politics as an outsider, seemingly free of vested influence.  But can he do all the things he claims, from making the country “safe” to negotiating with international leaders?   Furthermore, I wonder if Trump is willing to admit that there is anything he doesn’t know; is he willing to ask for help?     Grade  C

:  This one is perhaps my biggest sticking point with Trump.    Time and again throughout his business career, he’s demonstrated an unswaying commitment to Donald J. Trump and the Trump brand.   The man has an ego the size of the Milky Way.   Will he listen to people (like me)?  Will he satisfactorily represent people who don’t view the world with his own, individual lens.   His frequent racist and misogynist statements make me think otherwise.    Grade D

:  I’ll actually give it to him on this one.   Although he’s not one to share his fears, Trump is certainly readable.   The guy lets his feelings hang out; you always know what he’s thinking and feeling, even if that tends to run towards angry, negative and vindictive.   Grade A-

Looking at the grades above, I’d rate my trust level with Trump at about a C:   not nearly enough to earn my vote in November.    But I have doubts about Hillary Clinton’s trustworthiness as well.  Let’s see how she shows up for me, trust-wise, at the Democratic National Conference.