6 Ways Leaders Can Earn and Keep Trust
Editor’s Note: This post is part of the series “Return on Trust,” a weeklong effort provided by some very special invited guests. Be sure to keep track of the series here and check out our daily e-mail newsletter. Don’t subscribe? Sign up.
“Just trust me.” “Why don’t you trust me on this?” “Trust that it will all work out.” These are sentiments any person in business today has heard at one point or another. It could be the boss telling you to trust you will be treated right, a colleague telling you to trust they will deliver their portion of the project or a vendor asking you to trust they will apply the credit for your company correctly.
If it’s common to ask for trust, why isn’t it common that trust is given – or assumed? The watch what I do, not what I say adage applies here. Instead of telling someone to “trust me” you need to show them that you are trustworthy.
The problem is that trust is personal. You may trust a colleague because they came through for you on an important issue, but the person sitting next to you doesn’t trust that same colleague because they overheard them speaking negatively about another colleague. You may be an intrinsically more trusting person – behaviorally some see the glass more full than others – or you may be someone who takes a long time to trust and has to see evidence of it.
You can’t control much about others, but you can take some steps to earn the badge of “trustworthy”
Because circumstances dictate actions too, someone may have been trustworthy at one point and now seem out for themselves given a perceived dangerous environment. You can’t control much about others, but you can take these six steps to earn the badge of “trustworthy”—at least in most people’s eyes:
1. Recognize it’s all about me for most people.
It’s not that everyone is out for only their own good, it’s that everyone sees the world through the lens called “me”. Be careful how you filter the words, actions and behaviors of another when you don’t have enough information. People can tend to apply past experiences when a person or situation seems the same. Approach every situation as “new” until you have enough information to judge more clearly.
2. Maintain an objective attitude
There really are two sides to every story. When someone complains to you about someone else’s behavior, know that the other person probably has a complaint as well. Don’t rush to take sides or assume negative things about another person. Listen, but know there is another story to be told.
3. Understand behavioral style
Some people are more outgoing and talkative, while others keep things to themselves. Some people like to focus on process and logic while others would prefer to “shake it up”. Rather than see this as style differences, you can tend to be wary of someone who does it differently than you do. Recognize they are not doing anything TO you, they just view what needs to be done in a different framework.
Don’t just say what seems to sound good, but rather what is true and verifiable.
4. Mean what you say and say what you mean
Be willing to do self-examination. Don’t just say what seems to sound good, but rather what is true and verifiable. Step outside from time to time when you are speaking to another person and ask “Is this true? Is this accurate? Is this right?” Often times people are on auto-pilot. Taking a moment to question one’s self can be helpful in self-correcting.
5. Mind your words
Don’t say anything to another person about someone else unless you would (and have) said it to the person you are speaking of. It’s hard to trust someone who speaks to you about others, or tells others what you have said. If you don’t say it, you can’t get caught talking behind someone’s back.
6. Be consistent
There are few things that erode trust more than when the people who work with you don’t know what to expect next. Be a person of a certain character – always.
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