25 ways to build trust


Stuck moment: Everything has become such a big deal and is taking way longer than it should. People are definitely holding back. I think he might purposely be misleading us. I don’t know what to believe anymore.

*   *   *

Trust is a dusty concept these days, bordering on old-fashioned.

Sure, we could never rely on the weather report, but now it seems like deceit is pouring down all around us: identity theft, computer hacking, bandwidth throttling, WikiLeaks, sports stars trying to get away with murder.

What’s next? The conspiracy theorists turn out to be right? Scary.

Scarier still, we think, is the finding that we don’t trust each other any more than we do the Artful Dodger watching our stuff in line while we run to the restroom.

About a year and a half ago, a poll found that only one-third of Americans believe most people are trustworthy. That means the majority of us are operating on a foundation of “there’s a good chance he’s going to screw me over.” As a result, we take any number of tactics — pretending not to care, doing it all ourselves, writing cover-your-ass emails — to minimize the inevitable damage.

That’s a lot of energy spent to still put up with delays and suspicions and constant worry, as described in the stuck moment above. Can you treat distrust with mistrust and actually get anywhere?

No, not really. But we try.

What if the suspicion and worry were lifted? What if we greeted the next person we met believing that they say what they mean and they mean well?

We would be treating the world as it could be. And (usually) the world responds in kind. We would put trust in front of fear to forge relationships that can go the distance. We’d be free to share ideas. To laugh and discover together. Coexist in a flow that comes naturally when judgment is released. Oh boy, what couldn’t we do then?

Admittedly, it’s not easy to reverse ingrained mistrust. We’re so used to approaching people and things with a wary eye that it seems harder to let go of our protective maneuvers.

Unless we pause to consider the energy-sapping suspicion that comes with believing the worst — but doesn’t put a stop to it.

Until we admit that our relationships with our neighbors or coworkers or even our friends feel stilted and insufficient.

Until we realize that what we expect is what we get.

Then, perhaps, we’ll begin to trust first and worry later.

In the spirit of reciprocity, be the first one to send the trustworthy messages below through action, word, and intention. Start with one or two. Gradually add more to the mix. The return on relationship investment will change your life. Trust us.

We’re in this together
1. Share all the information. Good or bad. As soon as you can.
2. Aim for win-win, not win-lose.
3. Give credit freely and publicly.
4. Reveal something personal.
5. Be accountable for yourself.
6. Find a common cause (but not a common enemy).

It’s safe to speak up
7. Give your opinion, even when it’s not popular.
8. Be collaborative (not competitive).
9. Let others help or take over things.
10. Avoid nitpicking.

It’s safe to be human
11. Admit you don’t know something or made a mistake.
12. Listen with understanding and without judgment.
13. Avoid showing off.
14. Avoid exaggeration.
15. Tell the truth.

You don’t have to read between the lines
16. Say what you mean in a clear, straightforward manner.
17. Be consistent.
18. Stay calm.
19. Don’t talk ill of others.

You matter
20. Ask open-ended questions.
21. Remember special occasions.
22. Stay open to new ideas.
23. Factor all those concerned into decisions.
24. Show up on time.
25. Respond — and do it in a timely manner.

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