3 Ways to “ALWAYS” Build Trust

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Relationship quality is measured by the level trust attained. One determinant of success is the quality of our relationships, or the ability to build trust.

“Again and again, we see both individuals and organizations perform only to a small degree of their potential success, or fail entirely, simply because of their neglect of the human element in business and life.” – John C. Maxwell

The main focus of any leader is to build trust. Relationships built on trust are the foundation of success. No one has succeeded on an island. Stephen M.R. Coveyteaches that there are two types of trust:

  1. Character (your integrity)
  2. Competence (the ability and willingness to produce).

”Trust in others comes not only from being truthful but also from the extent you reliably you do what you say you will do.” Stephen M.R. Covey

Leaders who inspire, build, motivate, and ultimately succeed are leaders who are able to develop and maintain both types of trust in their professional and personal relationships. Some trust is instantaneous, while other trust must be earned over time. Recently I took a helicopter ride while working on a project in Brazil. As soon as we arrived at the helipad I saw the pilot with his uniform, stripes, and various symbols that signified his competence. Instantly I believed that he had the ability and qualifications to fly the machine safely. The same is usually true when we visit a doctor or attend a university lecture. Credentials can build trust. Especially trust in competence.

In business though, credentials often mean very little. Building trust with individuals and teams comes down to our ability to navigate complex social situations. While the circumstances may vary, the process of building lasting trust is very simple to learn and apply.

The process for building trust is:

  1. Always Listen First (Curiosity, Concern & Care)
  2. Always Speak About People as If They Can Hear You
  3. Always Do Exactly What You Promised, then Do More

The first two steps in the process build your “character trust” and the final step builds your “competence trust”.

Jeff Haden produced a short analysis on the Science of Building Trust that examined the book The Decision to Trust: How Leaders Create High-Trust Organizations.

Jeff counsels leaders on how to build trust and make effective decisions:

“When you put yourself in your employees’ place and consider their perspectives and their needs, you can easily determine the best ways to act and communicate so you can create an environment of empowerment and trust… and in the process build a high-performing organization.” – Jeff Haden

Leaders who build trust are leaders who succeed.

Always Listening First allows us to learn and understand. And more important, those people we are building relationships will feel our genuine care. Emotions control relationships. Listening gives other people the chance to express themselves; this opens the door to connection and long-term positive associations. By listening you show concern while learning what types of actions and behaviors will best allow this relationship to succeed.

Always Speaking About People as If They Were Present does not necessarily build trust, but doing the opposite is the fastest destroyer of trust. Lying and cheating is wrong – you might or might not get caught. But, whomever you talk to will know how you talk about others. They will not want to be talked about when they are gone and therefore will not trust you. Be the type of person you want to be friends with.

Always Doing Exactly What We Promised, and Then Doing More shows we have integrity, we are honest, and just as important – that we are competent. Getting the job done is what makes the world go round. If you promise a phone call, make the call. If you promise an email, send the email. If you promise a trip to the swimming pool, go to the pool! (Practice with your family – the ones closest to you are often the hardest ones to keep promises to.) No matter how honest we are, if we do not produce something, we do not add value. There are many things we can produce – if our role is a high school teacher our product then is how well we teach, educate, and inspire the youth. If our role is as an accountant, our accuracy and insights we produce become our product. Everyone in some form or another has value to contribute. Everyone can create and produce. Competence comes from the skill, ability, and willingness to produce the best possible product. We trust people who constantly perform. First do what you say you will, then wow them and do more.

Following the simplified three things we must “ALWAYS” do will put us in situations to constantly be building trust. Building trust in relationships takes time, is easy is to loose and nearly impossible to regain. Earning trust once is hard, earning it twice next to impossible. Work hard at building trust; treat trust building like a profession. Always listen, Always Speak Kindly and Open About Others, and Always Deliver.

Now Its Your Turn: What are some ways you have found that help build trust? What advice do you have for others on their journey? (please share your experience and knowledge)

* For further study I recommend these 3 books:

  1. The Decision to Trust: How Leaders Create High-Trust Organizations – Robert F. Hurley 
  2. The Speed of Trust – Stephen M.R. Covey
  3. Winning With People – John C. Maxwell

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