One of my favourite kinds of novels are parables. There’s of course something to be said about storytelling — it’s one of the best ways to transfer messages and information and it’s extremely memorable.

Ken Blanchard, the author of the One Minute Manager, co-wrote this book with Cynthia Olmstead and Martha Lawrence and it’s about an ABCD model of trust that the readers learn about through a parable with Woof and Whiskers, a dog and cat that strive to build trust with each other.

What is the ABCD model?

  1. The first step in developing trust is showing that you are Able to build trust. You do trustworthy things. You show that you can act for the benefit of the other person.
  2. Next, you have to be Believable in building trust. You have to act with integrity. You shouldn’t be saying negative things behind that person’s back. You should also be able to own up to your mistakes.
  3. Then, you have to Connect with the other person. Empathize with them. Show that you care for them.
  4. Finally, you have to be Dependable. Take consistent and regular action to show that you are reliable.

As a way for me to understand, I would like to briefly apply this model to one where you start a new job and in building trust with your boss.

  1. Able — Your boss doesn’t know you. You don’t know your boss. But you’ve been hired because of your skill set and experience. The first thing to do to build trust with your boss is to do good work and show that you are capable of doing good work.
  2. Believable — As you do good work, you may make mistakes or perhaps your boss does something that you do not necessarily agree with. Own up to your mistakes. Don’t blame others and don’t provide excuses. And if your boss does something you do not agree with, do not say negative things about your boss to your co-workers. Keep it to yourself or discuss it privately with your boss (if appropriate).
  3. Connect — Just as you do good work to help appease your boss, your boss also has a set of responsibilities and expectations that they are expected to fulfill. Good employees do great work. Great employees do great work and try to think about how to make their boss’ job easier.
  4. Dependable — You have done great work. You act in the interest of your boss. You own up to your mistakes. Doing this just once a month or once a quarter is not enough. You have to demonstrate that you are able and willing to do this over and over.

Overall, what a great way to break down trust into a specific model that anyone can use, apply and incorporate in their life. We all subconsciously did this with those that trust us but to put it into a model makes it easy to understand what they did and how to develop trust with others in the future. And the story of Woof and Whiskers, though maybe a bit ‘constructed’, was quite funny and memorable.


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