No matter what your political beliefs are, I think we can come together to realize our world is full of distrust. I love flipping back and forth between Fox News and MSNBC because I can hear two different spins on the same story. Which one is correct? Or is either one correct? It is easy to see that with all we hear, it is difficult to know what to believe and who to trust. 

Now let’s think about our workplace. I have worked with clients who said and did things to tear down trust. Well, not purposely, but that’s what happened. They didn’t realize that their actions caused others to be weary of them. Some of these actions included:

  • Not getting their work done on time as they said they would
  •  Inadvertently making their manager look bad in front of his boss by sharing information that took the manager by surprise
  • Cancelling meetings with staff at the last minute because something ‘more important’ came up
  • Agreeing to a plan of action in a meeting, and then trash talking that plan outside the meeting
  • Complaining how horrible another department was run
  • Blaming their people for failures versus owning up to their leadership outages

And the list goes on…..

Words and actions like the above examples can quickly make people question our intent, our commitment, our competency, and our sincerity. And this leads to people starting to distrust us. 

I often tell my clients about the emotional bank – you need to make several deposits before you can make a withdrawal. In this case, your words and actions need to show that you are trustworthy (lots of deposits), and if you slip every now and then doing the wrong thing (a withdrawal), people will think it’s a fluke, not a trend. 

But what if you slipped up too much already? Can you build back trust? Well, it’s difficult, and takes time (often months) to show people you are sincere and consistent, but yes, if you really choose to do so, you can. Here are a few tips on how to do it:

  • Stick to your commitments – both in timing and quality of work AND in keeping meetings with folks  (unless there is a DIRE emergency)
  • Focus on problem solving, not problem finger pointing
  • Always think ahead as to what’s best for the other person and the business, not yourself
  • Sincerely apologize if you did something wrong and say (and mean!) how you will make sure it doesn’t happen again
  • Give credit to others – remind people how much you appreciate their contributions 
  • Show vulnerability – none of us have all the answers, or are strong in everything, so seek out help when needed
  • Be patient in allowing people the time they need to trust you again – you may need to prove yourself over and over again (lots of deposits) to turn their thinking around.

Trust is a fundamental to all our relationships, in and out of the workplace. So it is important to choose words and behaviors that build and sustain it.

Wishing you a lifetime of great choices!



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