How to Build Trust with Anyone


The foundation of all relationships—at work and at home—is trust. Without it, things fall apart. There are three essential keys to building (or rebuilding) trust with anyone—your boss, your customers or clients, your coworkers, your employees, and even friends and loved ones. Implement these and watch your relationships improve:

1. Make and Keep Commitments without Checking In

In other words, keep your word with anyone without them needing to remind you. I once asked a client why she had hired me, and she said it was because she trusted me. I asked how she knew she could trust me, and she said it was because I called her at the exact time I said I would for all of our conference calls. Small things matter. If you say you are going to send something over by 5:00, make sure it is 5:00, not 5:05. This may sound inconsequential and silly, but it is not silly to many people—even if they never say anything about it. On the flip side, if you find yourself constantly checking in with someone or reminding someone of their commitment, it is probably due to lack of trust. Be up front and resolve the issues rather than developing a culture of babysitting and policing. I do believe in trust but verify—but not constantly verifying. Think of the money organizations spend and the tremendous amount of red tape and redundant processes they engage in due to lack of trust. This is why creating a culture of trust increases productivity, revenue, and profits.

2. Proactive Honesty

One of the reasons you know you can trust someone is that person proactively lets you know about a problem. The key here is the word proactive. Don’t wait for someone to ask. If you cannot deliver what you said you could or when you said you could, notify the appropriate parties as soon as possible. If something is due by Friday at 5:00 and you know on Tuesday that you are unlikely to achieve it, update those who need to know. When I have worked with companies to build a culture of trust where people are expected to be proactively honest, then people hear about issues and problems before they become huge challenges that waste company resources. They also hear about ideas and recommendations that help their organization be more innovative, move with velocity, and ultimately be more successful.

3. Be Honorable in How You Speak about Others

You can judge the character of a person, and the degree to which you can trust them, by how they speak about others to you. If they bad-mouth others to you and break confidentiality, they will bad-mouth you to others and break your trust when you’re not in the room. There is no justification or excuse for such behavior. Watch what you say and how you treat others, and never break confidentiality.

A culture of trust and honesty boosts morale and employee engagement, allowing the organization to move fast, fix problems, and constantly grow. Use these keys at work and home and watch your life take a quantum leap forward.

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