By Barb Ward

Let’s face it, no matter how much you want to, there is no way to make others trust you. Regardless of how nice you are, or how trustworthy you deem yourself to be, you must still go through the process of building trust. Trust is not something you inherently have; it is something you must intentionally create.

It is a worthwhile effort. Trust is an essential skill for life—both personally and professionally. It is the measure of the quality of relationships developed between individuals, groups of people, teams, and organizations. As an individual, and as a leader, many of the issues you face and the successes you experience reflect the level of trust you have established and maintained.

The difficult thing about trust is that while it is important to all of us, it is elusive and ever-changing. And you and I both know that it is harder to earn trust than it is to lose.

Here are 5 tips for building trust:

Focus on your everyday behaviors and actions. You’ve heard the saying, “actions speak louder than words.” Pay heed to this as you work to develop trust. People may hear what you say, but they will remember what you do.

Foster a culture of support. Create a clear structure and then allow others the autonomy to work how they work best. Encourage others to openly voice their concerns, while showing support and guiding them toward their own solutions.

Keep promises. If you say it, do it. Nothing erodes trust more quickly than broken promises.

Show genuine concern for others. When you ask questions and care about others, they respond in-kind. When you show that you value them as a person and they can feel your sincerity, your relationship grows. 

Respect different perspectives. Your ability to look beyond how you feel and consider others’ point of view and feelings opens a path for understanding, tolerance, and acceptance.

Extend trust. Showing vulnerability and extending trust to others is important, people feel trust when they know they can rely on and be vulnerable with you. But it is equally important to extend trust wisely. First, assess the situation, the risk, and the character of the person to determine if the risk is worth the investment. If the risk is high, you may need to continue building the relationship first.

Consistently demonstrate personal integrity, honesty, and sincerity. Never distort the truth or cover facts to make things easier on yourself. Who you are when you think no one is looking is every bit as important as who you are in the spotlight.

The first place you need to look to build trust is within yourself. You have the opportunity to turn your lens inward and get honest with yourself about behaviors and actions that are building or eroding trust around you.

  • What behaviors and actions do you exhibit that build trust? 
  • What behaviors and actions do you exhibit that erode trust?
  • What action can you take today that will increase your ability to create trust at work? At home?

Now that you have an idea of how to build trust in others, we’ll tackle the challenge of knowing how, when, and who to trust in our next blog.