Conversation Superpower Step 2 + Trust Equation Workshop instructions 

When an organisation wants to innovate, improve performance or simply get employees more involved with their organisation, then having a culture where quality conversations are encouraged, is fundamental. We have shared our experiences in our previous article all about Building a Human Connection.

If you’re interested in building a better connection with employees, then our light-hearted conversation cards activity will help.

Request a set of conversation cards here

So, step 2 in unleashing the Conversation Superpower is ‘Building a trusting environment’.

Trust is hard to pin down. It’s a very personal feeling and so falls in the ‘difficult to implement’ bucket. But one of our favourite tools to help establish a trusting environment is the Trust Equation.

Here’s how this tool can be applied in organisations to help people feel that they work in a trusting environment.

Firstly, this is the tool and the elements that combine to create trust.

The trust equation is a way to measure trustworthiness – how much trust can you place in others and how much might they place in you.

The three elements on the top measure the strength of that trust and the element below the line is the element that can undermine it entirely.

It’s the top three (numerators), divided by the bottom (denominator) that gives you the trust score. Let’s explain.


You may be considered credible for several reasons, but predominantly it’s either because you have a wealth of experience or are an acknowledged expert in your field. We had the privilege of working with Johnny Earle at a marketing conference last year. He has dozens of stories about himself starting and ‘failing’ businesses but by testing and learning many times over, he eventually found incredible success with the world’s first T-shirt bakery. He’s been there, done it and …um.. made the T-shirt. Johnny is in demand as a key-note speaker and is considered a trusted source of business advice because of his credibility, as well as his good humour and friendly nature.

Credibility Practical Application:

Think about you as a leader or as an influencer in your organisation. How can you demonstrate your credibility on the issue in question? For example, if you want people to trust you to manage a change programme, can you share your successful experiences, managing change in the past?


For many of us this might well be personified by a local taxi firm or a garage that you feel you can always rely on. Basically, they do what they say they’re going to do and don’t let you down.

If you keep your word, follow through on your promises then you score high on reliability.

This builds ‘credit’ in the trust bank and just like any deposit or trust account, if you build up a lot of deposits, then you’ll be able to withstand the time you don’t live up to expectations and some of the credit balance is withdrawn.

Reliability Practical Application:

Consider what actions you are taking on a day-to-day basis to deliver on promises you or your team make. How can you use your next team meeting to convey the importance of delivering on promises to the rest of your team? Are there any areas where you feel you are not delivering on promises? How could you reset those expectations or increase your reliability in that area?


For us this is key. It’s about building a relationship. In simple terms, you know them, and they know you and you are happy to share things with them because you have a good relationship. This for us is business intimacy. The Conversation Cards is a simple and fun way of taking the first step in building business intimacy with a certain group.

If we need an improvisation coach or expert to help an organisation think in a more agile way, we will pick up the phone to Jon Trevor. If we’re helping an organization build an effective comms campaign, then we seek out Craig Spivey. Not just because they have the credibility and reliability but because they are on our wavelength. They ‘get’ us.

Intimacy Practical Application:

Consider the people in your team or around you. How well do you know them? Do you know the names of their children or what they like to do at weekends? How many times do you meet up with people for a coffee, just to chat and get to know them? If you are all business, 100% of the time then it is difficult to build intimacy and you’re missing a critical element of building trust.


Many years ago we worked with a consultant, Dr Charles E. Smith and amongst many of his memorable sayings, was this.

“You are either for me or you’re against me”.

Simplistic, maybe, but we know what he means. For the trust score to be high, the person or organization you are placing trust in, has to be ‘For you’ and not just for themselves.

We’ve had a couple of painful experiences over time, thinking someone was ‘for us’ but sadly turned out to be 100% ‘for themselves’. We’re happy to report however, that this has proven to be the exception rather than the rule.

Most individuals and organizations are happy to collaborate, partner and work together for mutual benefit and shared outcomes, and this is tremendously effective when helping our clients achieve their outcomes.

A Trust Equation Exercise


When we were first introduced to the Trust Equation, it came with numbers. We have subsequently worked with it a good deal more and are forever grateful to the trainers at National Grid Academy for showing us that dropping the numbers is more effective.

Rather than a score out of 10, it’s much better to use a scale such as Strong to Weak, or Deep to Shallow. This enables you to find words to describe your relationship when assessing the trust score.