Trust is to an organization and team what oil is to a car engine. It keeps the moving parts from seizing up and stopping forward motion.
But trust is not something you can take for granted. It takes months – sometimes years to build. Unfortunately, you can lose it overnight.
Some people seem to have a knack for building trust. When they speak, others take them at their word. When they are absent, people speak well of them. Even when they make a mistake, people give them the benefit of the doubt.
Others are just the opposite. People distrust what they say. They are suspicious of their motives. They interpret every comment, every phone call, every e-mail, every text, and every action as one more reason the person cannot be trusted.
If you are in a situation where you need to build trust – or even rebuild it – here are four specific action steps you can take. Regardless of what you do professionally. These steps will work with your employees, your players, your coaches, your colleagues, your children – or even your spouse.
1) Keep your word: This is where it starts. I heard my father continually say growing up – “Son, all you have in life is your word – your word is your bond.” People have to learn that they can count on you to deliver on your promises. Whatever that may be. If you commit to following up on something, do it. No excuses. If you can’t do it, be pro-active and let the other person know. To this day, I do my best to honor this principle in my personal life and professional life. Thanks, Dad! 🙂
2) Tell the truth: This is harder than it sounds. Most of us like to think of ourselves as truth-tellers. This happens in the industry of scouting or coaching. it’s easy for a scout or coach to round the numbers up, spin the facts, or conveniently leave out the evidence that doesn’t support their position on a player. Let me encourage you – don’t do it!
If we are going to build trust, then we have to commit ourselves to telling the truth – even when it is difficult or embarrassing. People are more forgiving than you think. (Witness all the celebrities and athletes who have publicly blown it, apologized, and received forgiveness) People don’t expect you to be perfect. However, they do expect you to acknowledge your mistakes when you screw up.
3) Be transparent: People will not trust you unless you learn to share yourself, warts and all. You have to take a risk and be vulnerable. This creates rapport and rapport builds trust.
However – and be warned! – you can’t use this as a gimmick or a technique. If you do, people will see it as manipulation. Instead, you have to be authentic.
The reason this builds trust is because you are demonstrating trust. You are taking the initiative to go first. In essence, you are saying, “Look, I trust you. I am taking off my mask and showing you my true self. Some of it isn’t very pretty. But I am willing to take that risk, believing you will still accept me.”
In my experience, this kind of self-revelation almost always gives the other person the courage to take off their mask, too. And that builds trust. The relationship is deepened. It goes to a new level.
4) Give without any strings attached: Nothing builds trust like love. What does love have to do with the workplace? – everything! You have to be willing to share your knowledge, your contacts, and your compassion – without expecting anything in return. The more you take the initiative to give, the more it builds trust.
Giving lets others know that you know that it’s not “all about you.” From this, people learn that they can trust you, because you have their best interests at heart. You aren’t merely looking out for yourself. You’re taking care of them, too.
But, like being transparent, you have to be careful how you give. Otherwise, it will be perceived as manipulation. You have to make sure your motives are pure. You can’t expect something in return.
Trust can always be rebuilt. Granted, in some situations, it can take years. It takes doing the right things, in the right way, with the right heart, over a long period of time. But in most cases, it won’t take that long. Relationships with people can be messy. However relationships can be turned around quickly if you own the problem and take the action steps outlined above. Like the old saying I heard many years ago – “The best time to plant a tree is 10 years ago, the next best time is…today”!
Question: What can others do to build trust with you?