Building Trust Requires More than Dependability

A consultant once asked me about a person we’ll call Bill to keep his identity secret. I told the consultant that I found it hard to trust Bill, even though he kept his promises and didn’t deceive anyone. I explained that Bill didn’t practice what he preached and could be condescending without apologizing when he was wrong. This made me realize that just being reliable and honest doesn’t automatically make someone trustworthy; it takes more.

Gaining and maintaining the trust of your colleagues is crucial. Recent studies reveal four ways to build trust at work. First, treat others and their work with respect. Second, declare your values and live by them. Third, know when to keep secrets and when to be open. Fourth, create a sense of harmony throughout your business.

Treat others and their work with dignity:

  • It’s important to value both the work and the person contributing to it. Colleagues who treat each other with respect build trust.
  • Bill lost trust by diverting conversations to irrelevant issues in a condescending tone, making others feel disrespected.
  • Create opportunities for others to showcase their talents. Be a safe place for colleagues to fail, preserving their self-respect.

Be who you say you are:

  • Your actions and words should align with your stated values. Clearly communicate your values, and ensure your behavior reflects them.
  • Bill praised teamwork but acted irritable and sarcastic, contradicting his stated values.

Balance transparency with discretion:

  • Know when to share information and when to keep things confidential. Trust is built by being transparent about why certain information is kept secret.
  • Share personal and work-related information generously, but maintain boundaries. Avoid gossip and respect others’ trust in you.

Build bridges that unify:

  • Create harmony within your company by turning rivals into allies. Work together across departments to build trust and collaboration.
  • Show genuine interest in others to foster inclusion. Be supportive of their goals, especially those different from yours, to build trust.

Trust is a valuable aspect of the workplace. It’s something we need to earn every day by respecting others, aligning our actions with our values, maintaining transparency, and building bridges across the organization. A trustworthy reputation is crucial for a successful career. Consider the story your colleagues might tell about you, and strive to make it one of trustworthiness.

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