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Published date: October 3, 2017
Last modified: October 3, 2017

For Leaders there are two sides to trust

There are two sides to trust: the first is outward-looking and grows from one’s past experiences with a particular person; the second is in-ward looking and come’s  from one’s own history, particularly from childhood experiences. The level of trust any person feels is fed by both of these sources. You have control over the outward facing one, so start there. The technique is simple – well simple to explain: start being trustworthy.

Trustworthiness is encouraged by a number of actions that are within your power to take:

  1. Do what you say you will do. Don’t make promises you can’t or won’t keep. Most people’s trust problems have been learned from untrustworthy actions in the past.
  2. People trust others whom they believe understand them. Listen to people carefully and tell them what you think they are saying. If you have it wrong, accept the correction and revise what you say, it is also the basis for good interpersonal skills.
  3. People trust those who are looking out for their best interests. Understand what matters to people and work hard to protect whatever is related to that.
  4. Mistrust begins when people are unable to read you. Share yourself-honestly. Hiding short comings may improve your image, but it doesn’t build trust. Admitting an untrustworthy action is itself a trustworthy action.
  5. Ask for feedback and acknowledge unasked for feedback on the subject of your own trustworthiness. Regard it as valuable information and reflect on it. It may be biased, and you don’t have to accept all of it. But check for important half-truths.
  6. Trust is mutual or it is very shallow. Don’t try to push others to trust you further than you would trust them. Your own mistrust will be communicated subtly and will be returned to you in kind.
  7. Try extending your trust of others a little further. Being trusted makes one more trustworthy, and trustworthy people are more trusting.
  8. Trust doesn’t automatically come with friendship. Don’t confuse being trustworthy with ‘being a buddy.’ Being a buddy for a purpose is an untrustworthy act.
  9. Building trust takes time. Don’t be surprised if your trust building project is viewed a bit suspiciously. Asking people to let go of their old mistrust of managers and you in particular, means a significant transition. Their mistrust, -justified or not was a form of self-protection, and no one readily gives up self protection.
  10. If all of this is too complicated to remember and you want to a single key to building T.R.U.S.T., just remind yourself, ‘always tell the truth.’

As to what you can do with the inner face of mistrust -which goes back to people’s childhood – the same advice holds true. The difference is that if a person’s history has reinforced mistrust, you will make even slower headway than combating mistrust you earned by your own actions. But you can make headway with even the most mistrustful person, so get started. Every hour that mistrust continues makes transition more difficult than it has to be.



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