Four Pillars: Confidence and trust

Martin Geddes, while commenting on my previous post, threw a snowball at me. He recommended that anyone interested in understanding the difference between confidence and trust should read Adam Seligman’s The Problem of Trust.

I trust Martin.

So I ordered the book straightaway, and Amazon have guaranteed that they will deliver the book to me by 1pm Thursday.

I have confidence that Amazon will deliver.

I tried to figure out what I really mean by these terms, in preparation for reading the book. And what I came to was this:

I believe trust is about what a person is, about people, about relationships. It is integral and whole within itself, and is based on values and ethics. About covenant.

Trust is vulnerable. It is like faith.  You believe someone will not do you harm.

I believe confidence is about what a person can do, about his or her abilities and skills. It can be segmented into degrees and levels, and is based on transactions. About contract.

Confidence is set against past achievements, and starts at zero and builds from there. Trust is set against beliefs and values, starts at 100 and builds from there.

I have no confidence in Martin’s ability to predict the finalists in this year’s World Cup. I have no confidence in Amazon’s ability to predict the finalists in this year’s World Cup.

But I trust Martin’s recommendations related to books on trust, and I have confidence in Amazon’s ability to deliver said book when they said they would.

Comments anyone? I will try and expand on this after reading the book. With issues like this, I find I learn faster if I articulate what I think I believe in the first instance. Even if all that is achieved is that I know a little bit more about what I think.

What I have written so far on identity and trust and relationships and authentication and permissioning is based on what I have stated above. As I learn more about these things, I’m sure I will change what I have written.



11 thoughts on “Four Pillars: Confidence and trust”

  1. The link you seem to be developing between trust, identity and relationships is well articulated by Francis Fukuyama in ‘Trust’….his basic premise being that collaborative development is most efficient in ‘high-trust’ societies and these have an innate advantage over ‘low-trust’ societies which have to negotiate ground rules and bargaining conditions.

    Fukuyama’s problem (with most of his theories) is that while his thinking may be pretty sound and he argues solidly, history has a perverse way of proving him wrong (this book was written pre-Enron)…I guess that’s what you get from calling your first book ‘the End of History’.

    I like Fukuyama, he’s an original thinker and Trust is well worth a read – might be an alternate manifesto to Seligman’s book anyway.

  2. Confidence: I believe someone CAN do something (i.e. they have the capability and the capacity).
    Trust: I believe they WILL do something (i.e they have the intent and motivation to do so)

  3. Webster says :
    “Confidence: full trust. Belief in the powers, trustworthiness or reliability of a person or thing.
    Trust: reliance on the integrity, strength, ability surety of a person or thing; confidence.
    Trust implies instinctive unquestioning belief; Confidence implies conscious trust because of good reasons, definite evidence or past experience”.

  4. Thanks for the comments. I too like Fukuyama; not sure that the End of History was his first book, but it was definitely the first book of his I read.

    Trust and confidence have got intertwined over the years, but I think they are distinct and separate. I will post more on this. Keep the converssation going.

  5. Martin, I agree with everything you say here. Yes, I trust that the comment comes from you. I have some collateral information, to do with your writing style and grammar and so on, but essentially I assume it is you on a trust basis.

    I probably go further. I allow your comments in on an unmoderated basis, having chosen the “if someone has been allowed to post before then let them post without reference to me” facility. I cannot trust you on a per-comment basis.

    I also agree on login prompts being “muda”. And that most digital ID systems are based on this false premise of zero trust, and that it needs to change. Worth a separate post one of these days.

  6. confidence is within you or an organisation or a team. Trust is outside you or an organisation. Trust builds a relationship . Confidence gives hope and motivate you to further do something Confidence gives/increases your self esteem. Trust assures you on someones ability/resonse to you. At times, confidence is built on trust level on others.
    Ramesh Deka

  7. Hi JP, it’s been a long time, hope you and the family are doing well.

    Thanks for this, it’s been really helpful. I live in Norway, and they have only one word that covers both trust and confidence; I’ve been trying to explain the difference and my explanation was that confidence was task related; one has confidence in a person related to a specific task or role, trust is more about intention and motivation.

Let me know what you think

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