September 2, 2023




The Trust Equation

At a glance

Today’s Fast Summary:

  • Trust is a product of empathy, and both are necessary components of relationship development.

  • Charles Green’s equation uses credibility, reliability, intimacy, and self-orientation to quantify a person’s trustworthiness.

  •  Improving credibility, reliability, and intimacy while lowering your self-orientation builds trustworthiness in the eyes of others.

  • Every relationship—romantic, platonic, or professional—stands or falls on the strength of trust.

| Billionaires wanted it, but 54,578 everyday investors got it first… and profited

Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Masterworks, an alternative investing platform.

When incredibly valuable assets come up for sale, it's typically the wealthiest that end up taking home an amazing investment. But not always

One platform is taking on the billionaires at their own game, fractionalizing prized blue-chip artworks for its investors. In just the last few years, its investors have realized annualized net returns of 17.8%, 21.5%, 35% and more.

It's called Masterworks. When Masterworks sells a painting – like the 16 it's already sold – investors reap their portion of the profits.

Offerings can sell out in minutes, but interested readers can skip the waitlist to join.

How to Build Trust With Anyone At Any Time: The Trust Equation

Building trust in the digital age is difficult. Trust is a product of empathy, both necessary components of relationship development.

Trustworthiness is quantifiable. Best-selling Author Charles Green first wrote about The Trust Equation—the necessary components of trustworthiness—in his book The Trusted Advisor.

It's been read by thousands and become an essential tool for consultants, negotiators, and advisors around the world.

The Trust Equation

Green’s equation uses credibility, reliability, intimacy, and self-orientation to quantify a person’s trustworthiness.

Credibility, reliability, and intimacy build trustworthiness. Self-orientation, or selfishness, lowers your perception as trusting.

Here is a breakdown of the equation and how you can use it to build trust:

1. Credibility

Credibility is simply how believable your words are. This has little to do with your credentials or accolades.

If your words don’t seem believable, proper credentials won't make you trustworthy. Your words instill trust in others. Therefore, if people trust what you say, you’re credible.

Use the following tips to build credibility:

  • Practice active listening, and ask open-ended questions of the person you’re speaking to.

  • Before a meeting or important event, research the topic, people, and products. Ensure you’re knowledgeable about potential topics.

  • Use definitive language. Refrain from using “may,” “might,” or “could.”

  • Be transparent with your knowledge base. If you don’t know something, be honest.

2. Reliability

Credibility has to do with words; reliability has to do with actions. You become reliable by doing what you say you’re going to do. It’s built through consistency and understanding.

To practically boost reliability, try the following:

  • Mirror your peer’s verbal and body language. We’re inherently more likely to trust people who sound like us.

  • Be on time for your engagements, and arrive prepared.

  • Deliver on the large and small promises you make.

3. Intimacy

This has nothing to do with sex. Instead, it has everything to do with feeling safe to share doubts and insecurities. Intimacy is the way one perceives empathy in others.

Those who dodge questions or withhold the truth are perceived as less vulnerable. We’re attracted to vulnerability in others, which improves intimacy.

People crave security: The safer people feel with you, the more they will trust you.

To build intimacy with others:

  • Be vulnerable in social situations; share aspects of your background when appropriate.

  • Physically react when emotional information is shared. Use facial expressions to demonstrate sympathy.

  • Ask open-ended questions of those around you. These foster emotional intimacy.

4. Self-Orientation

Self-orientation is how much someone thinks of themselves. Self-centered individuals are less trustworthy.

You likely don’t trust people who only focuses on their needs and desires. To be trusted, you must think of those around you.

To lower self-orientation:

  • Speak less than you are spoken to. Those who speak more often are perceived as more self-oriented.

  • Engage those around you. Ask questions and be interested in what they have to say.

  • Respond to information when it’s shared with you.

Use this framework to improve your trustworthiness.

Every relationship—romantic, platonic, or professional—stands or falls on the strength of trust.

What connections can you draw from your personal experiences with trust, and how can you use those to improve your trustworthiness? This week, I ask you to visualize trust and analyze its importance.

  1. Trustworthy people: Who do and don’t you trust?

    a. First, think of someone whom you trust.

    b. Why do you trust them? On a sheet of paper, list the reasons why you trust that individual. Consider all physical, innate, or concrete reasons.

    c. Who don’t you trust? Consider all physical, innate, or concrete reasons why you don’t trust them.

    d. Draw connections between the two descriptions/explanations. Are there certain qualities, traits, or habits you associate with trust?

  1. Reflect on your relationship with trust.

    a. Think of a time when you were untrustworthy. This might be a professional or personal example.

    b. Then, analyze your untrustworthiness. What happened? How did the person react?

    c. Think about what you could’ve done alternatively. Use the framework discussed in this article for reference.

    d. Visualize a future conversation/meeting, and be creative. In your mind, practice how you’ll use the components of these frameworks to build trust with the person.

With trust, your relationship can withstand the harshest storm. Without trust, the smallest hiccup can ruin it.


I’d love to hear from you:

  • What do you feel builds trust?

  • How important is trust to you?

  • What trust frameworks can you think of?

Tweet at me (@_alexbrogan) or respond to this email — I’ll try to respond to everyone.

Have a wonderful Saturday, all.

Until next time,


Interested in starting your own newsletter?

See important disclosures at

The Faster Than Normal Newsletter

Join 70,000 others receiving timeless ideas to break from normal.

Delivered twice weekly to your inbox

Wednesday and Saturday

100% free

You're in!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
We won't send spam. Unsubscribe at any time.