The basis of every relationship, whether personal or professional, is trust—nothing meaningful in this life can be achieved without it.
The foundation of trust is open, bi-directional communication.
Trust takes time, dedication and intention to build, sometimes only to be carlessly violated and lost in moments.
While there are many ways trust can be destroyed, here are five time-tested ways to build trust.
1. Tell the truth with kindness.
By definition lying is an ultimate breach of trust, yet virtually all of us do it. In fact, according to a University of Massachusetts study more than 60 percent of adults are unable to engage in a 10-minute conversation without lying in some way.
Whether in business or personal relationships, honesty is the best policy; however, honesty without kindness tends to be cruel. Effective, trust-building communications need to strike a harmony between honesty and kindness.
2. Be transparent.
If lying is the sin of commission, then withholding information is the flip side. It’s a sin of omission and it can be just as damaging to an entire organization as it is to an indivdual relationship.
For example, two months ago Reuters reported on a lawsuit filed against a division of the USDA for the agency’s failure to respond and provide requested information to a food safety advocacy group seeking details about genetically modified crops.
It doesn’t matter if its intentional deceit on a micro scale or calculated stonewalling at the macro level. Trust is the victim in both instances.
3. Live the Golden Rule.
The ancient axiom of, “Treat others the way you’d like to be treated” seems so obvious, yet it seems to be taking a backseat to a culture becoming increasingly obsessed with taking selfies than taking account for the needs of others.
Whether you’re around the dinner table at home or the conference table at work, civility and manners matter. In her 2009 book, The Cost of Bad Behavior, researcher Christine Pearson’s survey of more than 9,000 managers and employees found incivility is rampant in the workplace. Consider the following statistics from her book:
- Ninety five percent of all employees have experienced incivility at work.
- Half of those surveyed said they decreased their on-the-job effort after experiencing repeated bad behavior.
- More than 12 percent of all employees have left a job because of coarse conduct from others.
If you don’t want it done to you then don’t do it to someone else—it’s common courtesy but itseems to becoming less common.
4. T.H.I.N.K. before you speak
Nobody wants to be the topic of backbiting gossip. It hurts feelings, damages relationships and even hurts the bottom line.
According to a survey last year from Careerbuilder, 42 percent of the more than 2,000 respondents cited gossip as the second greatest productivity killer at work, only behind non-work-related cell phone use and texting. Before you gossip consider this useful acronym gleaned from a self-help workshop: T.H.I.N.K—are your words True, Helpful, Informative, Necessary and Kind.
If what you’re about to say is not all of those things—don’t say it
5. Keep your promises.
According to psychologist and relationship expert Meredith Hansen, keeping your word is at the core of trust. It’s common sense that you’ll never earn the trust of others if you lack the integrity to do what you say you will. Researchers have identified brain patterns that reflect a predisposition to break a promise and have conluded in this study that the underlying issue for most broken promises is an internal conflict between pleasing someone else and an honest “No.”
Simply stated, if you’re willing and able to do something for someone then do it—if not, then don’t say you will. You build more trust if you decline a request, than if you overcommit and fail to follow through.
Everything good in life that can be achieved requires trust in some way or form.
These five steps toward building trust are obvious, but why do so many of us consistently fail to apply these trust-building truths?
The truth is that many of us can’t help ourselves from self-inflicting such damaging behavior personally or professionally. Hopefully, this is a helpful reminder to us all—me included.