Trust is arguably one of the most important components in building workplace relationships. When people trust you, they believe what you say. That means you don’t have to fight for and defend your point of view every single time. When you have someone’s trust, they value your experience and judgment and will seek out your opinion. They will seek out your advice, extending your influence.

5 Behaviors that Undermine Trust:

  • Overpromising
  • Lying and spinning the truth
  • Poor delivery of a difficult message
  • Not extending trust first
  • Engaging in a personal conflict

How to Rebuild Trust:

  • Take ownership of mistakes
  • Show compassion
  • Make amends
  • Focus on using actions, not words

But what about if you need to build trust in the first place, from the ground up? Perhaps you are a new employee in an organization or you are the manager of a new team.

Building Individual Trust

  • Make promises and keep them. One mistake that undermines trust is overpromising and under-delivering. But failing to commit in the first place is just as bad. Trust is built over time and based on experience. You can accelerate that by creating trust-building experiences. Expressly remind people of the commitments you have kept.
  • Make firm commitments. Avoid the words, “I’ll try” or “I’ll do my best.” It’s really tempting to use language like this because, after all, all you can do is do your best and you never can know if you will succeed or not. But unfortunately, prematurely anticipating failure or leaving the door open to escape accountability does not do much for establishing trust.
  • Follow-up. When people have to come to you to ask you or check-in about something, you have already lost a little bit of your credibility. Conversely, when you take initiative to send an update, progress report, or project plan, you are proving you are dependable.
  • Communicate obstacles. When obstacles arise, there are two extremes of behavior you should not exhibit. 1) Don’t be the hero, solve the problem all by yourself, work overtime to meet the original deadline… and then keep it all to yourself. 2) Don’t get frustrated, assume you’ll never make your deadline, accept defeat… and then bring the problem to your client (or boss). Instead, open the lines of communication, bring possible solutions, and be flexible in working toward a positive result. A setback can become an opportunity to build trust.