The purpose of the Trust Scale is to help you measure your relationships.  This retractable banner stand is 34″ wide and comes with it’s own carrying case.



The Trust Scale represents trust as a spectrum ranging from severe distrust to highly committed trust. Many personal and corporate relationships devolve into relative obscurity because the participants do not have architecture to design trust into their relationships.

At the high end of the Trust Scale are trusting relationships called Builders. Hopefully, you have experienced similar relationships that are highly cooperative, like family, friends, or playing on a sports team. At times, you shared material possessions or your deepest emotional senses with a loved one. Some people reach this highest form of trust when they engage in the synergistic process of co-creation.

At the low end of the Trust Scale are distrustful relationships called Busters. This zone represents the type of situation where people attack one another, verbally or physically. They may also manipulate and deceive, often people retaliate with equally or more intense forms of distrustful behavior, spiraling into Annihilation on the Trust Scale.

The Trust Scale works because we’re always moving up or down the spectrum. By identifying on the scale where you are in a relationship, you’ll be better prepared to understand the actions and reactions of others.

Using The Trust Scale

To make the most effective use of the Trust Scale, just discuss with another person where your relationship exists now on the scale (it can exist on multiple points), and where you want it to go. Often you may have higher (or lower) expectations than another person. Then discuss what has to change to put things in the zone where you mutually agree the relationship can maximize its potential.

Trust Scale Definitions

Encounter-Neutral: We’ll start at the center. Encounter is the starting point of trust. Encounter represents a first meeting with no real judgment, good or bad, of the experience. The first time you go to a new pizza place, pay an attendant at a parking garage, or meet a potential business partner is an encounter. You could define it as any transaction or exchange. Can you remember the name or face of the toll-booth attendant? Probably not, since you had a transactional encounter based on a simple exchange. There was sufficient trust to do the exchange, but, if significant money were at stake, you’d want both the safety and security of a strong relationship.

When shopping, we put enough trust in the brand, or the store’s reputation, to complete the exchange of goods or services for money, but not enough trust to engage in a deeper relationship.

Trust Builders

relationshipHave you ever look up the definition of “relationship” in Webster’s Dictionary? The obscure definition will shock you: “to be related.” No wonder we’re so poor at forming relationships. We don’t even know what we’re talking about! We can’t even define what we mean by a relationship, what we want in a relationship, or how relationships function.

To build a relationship, the other person needs to know you’re listening, without judgment. When we listen with compassion, learning, and constructive inquiry, we begin to build trust. People feel like they are receiving support.

guardianshipThe next level of trust provides safety and security to the other person. This level may embrace the prior level, but goes a step further. Guardianship can be one way, much like a parent with a child, but it can go both ways, too, in mutual guardianship, like soldiers on a battlefield.

Individuals who don’t feel safe in your presence will be protective or fearful. Guardianship means knowing that you won’t intentionally hurt me. At a deeper level, it’s reliance. I know that:

  • You’ll be there to protect me from harm
  • You’ll be there when I need you
  • You won’t sacrifice me for self interest
  • You’ll protect my best interests as well as your own
  • You won’t be negligent
  • We will protect each others safety

At the Guardianship level, the issue of honor and integrity becomes critical to building trust. Beyond respect, Guardianship means honoring your essence and defending you from attack. Others expect the same from you.

friendshipFor this level of trust, we use a dog as the symbol. Why? After 10,000 years of selective breeding that started with a wolf, we’re left with dogs who give us what we want in humans but can’t seem to get. Ask any dog owner what they like in their dog. Typical answers include: he’s always there for me, always happy to see me, loyal, faithful, and protective, never carries a grudge or the baggage of unfulfilled expectations, playful, and makes me smile.

When we build trust at the friendship level, we embrace all the prior levels of trust, but add some very energizing and vital creative forces to the relationship.

Friendship also implies a playfulness that brings out our inner child. This playfulness brings us back to days when we had fewer concerns about achievement or looking good. At this level of trust, we can let our egos melt away and engage more directly.

In a friendship, trust allows our goals and fears, our deepest yearnings and our personal limits/failures to be put out in the open with no sense of diminishment. We’re willing to be open and transparent with no hidden agendas because the trust is firm and strong.

partnershipA partnership respects and cherishes the different thinking and capabilities between two or more people or organizations. It’s the synergy between various strengths and the alignment of common purposes that makes a partnership a true alliance. You see partnerships in business all the time. For example, one person does outside sales; another keeps the finances on track; another runs operations. Great partnering relationships require a number of things to make them work effectively:

  • Shared vision
  • Shared values
  • Shared resources
  • Shared risk and rewards

creationshipFor this level of trust, we crafted a new word. Creationship meaning that we can do something extraordinary together that we can’t do alone and will not do with just anyone. Virtually all the great discoveries and innovations in today’s world are happening in this way. Industries and technologies are putting this force to work in science with the Watson-Crick discoveries of DNA or the NASA teams sending a man to the moon. Take the Genomics Project as an example; it’s the confluence between medicine, mathematics, informatics, and computers. Its goal was to identify all the approximately 20-25,000 genes in human DNA. Even your automobile benefits from Creationship. Today, 25-40% of your automobile’s value comes from electronics, not mechanics. Just 25 years ago, the electronics value was only 1%.

A Creationship is the gold standard by which you can measure your ability to trust others and be trusted. It embraces the prior elements of trust building and then unleashes a connection between the hearts and minds of the co-creators with new ideas generating like spontaneous combustion.

Purpose and Destiny | Some of the most co-creative people on the planet have a deep sense of personal purpose or destiny; they know why they are on this earth. Purpose gives meaning and value to what we do, a reason for being. Destiny means we aim our purpose higher, to achieve something worthy of our collective effort, something we and our children can be proud of. To accomplish this mission, we must engage others.

Laugh | Creationship is not all-grinding labor. Co-creative teams have fun at what they do and laugh a lot. Research shows that laughter releases endorphins that trigger creativity. When people laugh, they are spontaneously creating magical moments..

Trust Busters

protectionProtection typically takes two forms, active and passive. Active protectors often hide behind mountains of legal agreements, non-disclosures, and red tape. Over protectiveness often creates the distrust from which they attempt to protect themselves. Passive protectors withdraw, flee, hide, or remain silent, making no commitments, avoiding interactions, and taking no risks. Bureaucrats are professional protectors, deflecting responsibility with obscure rules, convoluted processes, and abstract reasoning.

Sometimes, there’s a need for Protection when your honor or dignity is at risk. You must also protect yourself from physical, mental and financial attacks. Protection makes sense when you’re facing corruption, and you need to stay strong through a storm to fight another day.

Protection is the only defense that the most trustful of us has against corruption. Ghandi and Martin Luther King used Protection against their persecutors, but they never went into the darker uses of trust busters. You mustn’t descend any lower and only go to Protection when you’re attacked.

manipulationThe mind of the manipulator has determined they cannot expect the world to respond in predictable and reasonable ways. So they trick the world to their advantage because the lack of trust does not allow it to respond predictably. This rationale obviously sets up a circular, self-fulfilling prophesy.

The most recognized manipulation game is whining or complaining. Such games attack others by focusing attention on how everyone else is wrong, bad, guilty, or incompetent. The whiner seeks to get his own way by maneuvering others into the “bad guy” role, often getting away with it because placating is easier than establishing more trusting roles.

Surprises are one of the other ways the manipulator operates. Sometimes the surprise is innocent, but surprises come from self-interest that fails to take others into consideration. In a sense, a surprise implies you don’t exist or weren’t important enough to the manipulator to consider. Our response may be to “get them back” by out-manipulating the manipulator, or perhaps by playing people against one another.

aggressionAggression uses someone’s power to threaten you. Often taking the form of a game, the aggressive person believes the best defense is a good offense and takes the initiative to demonstrate superiority, strength, and power. Aggression can take the form of a big ego to disguise a sense of insecurity. Insecure egoists will destroy trust by always putting themselves and their agenda first.

Aggressors will bellow and bluster their way through or into any situation, always looking out for themselves. To demonstrate their power, they’ll play power games—sitting higher than you at a meeting, telling stories about their aggressiveness, speaking crassly in public, or insisting their answer is the only right one. For them, the only way is their way; “he who has the gold, rules.”

Passive-aggressive behavior is yet another game some play. Since outright aggression is a trickier game, being passive-aggressive allows one to obstruct others by acting helpless, procrastinating, becoming upset, displaying hurt feelings, resenting others, or refusing to act after multiple requests. You’re meant to think things are all right, but these subtle tricks often confuse and hurt.

nullificationHave you ever been shunted aside, zeroed out, made meaningless, or marginalized? That’s Nullification, and it’s not pretty. When someone walks out on you or ignores you, you’re being nullified.

Nullification can happen passively when others fail to respond to you in a meeting or to your request for assistance. To illustrate the power of Nullification, studies have shown that it’s more damaging to neglect an infant than to show violence. Nullification is destructive because it thwarts a vital desire in everyone: the need to be needed and the need to make a difference.

annihilationAnnihilation destroys a relationship and everything associated with it. It intends to wipe you off the map. Where Nullification pretends you don’t exist, Annihilation is the action that wants you removed from the environment. Words like destruction and obliteration come to mind. In order to get to Annihilation, there must be many miscommunications and the perception of betrayal. Watch what happens when you ask anyone if they’ve been betrayed. Usually it’s a reaction of emotional pain. Everyone has their stories, and their pain associated with the betrayal. Their hurt is carried around like a private wound, often with guarded silence. Others turn betrayal into blame or worse, revenge.

Purposeful betrayal is all too common in our daily world. Its corrosive force destroys teamwork, co-creativity, and spiritual community. In response to betrayal, people typically withdraw into a protective cocoon. Others react the opposite, fighting with a vengeful energy that leaves no possibility of reconciliation. When done unintentionally, betrayal takes a variety of forms – selfishness or insecurity – often manifesting as creeping dissent, an angst of complaint, blame, undermining, resentment, negativity, fault-finding, character assassination, and endless complaints.