Trust is the foundation of success.
- If you are an athlete, you have to trust your teammates.
- If you are a musician, you have to trust your counterparts.
- If you are an entrepreneur, you have to trust the people you work with.
And if you’re running a company, you have to build the trust of your employees.
So many issues derive from a lack of trust.
Whether we want to admit it or not, we are emotional creatures — and we know when our “spidey-sense” tells us we are not being trusted, or we do not trust the other person.
A lack of trust can greatly impact our decision-making, and even affect the work we do.
How do you build trust?
1. Keep Your Word
The simplest and most effective way to build trust is to get in the habit of keeping your word.
If you say you’re going to read something over the weekend, read it.
If you promise to have that report done by Monday, have it done.
If you’re going to take the lead on a project, don’t let it fall by the wayside.
Someone is always watching.
Keep your word, and they will trust you. Break your word, and they will remember you as such.
2. Give The Benefit Of The Doubt
Conflict inherently questions trust.
Like animals, we wonder if this conflict is isolated or part of a larger issue. Instead of letting the latter manifest itself, always give the benefit of the doubt and stay positive (until more information is revealed or you’ve had time to think about whatever happened in depth).
Giving people the benefit of the doubt also subtly encourages them to do the same for you.
This builds a trusting relationship back and forth that both parties have positive intentions.
3. Make Eye Contact
Simple, but effective.
When you speak, look the other person in the eye. Avoidance of eye contact is, and will always be, one of those things that makes you question the other person.
Remove the variable. Look them in the eye.
When fires start out of nowhere, someone gets blamed.
When someone gets blamed, again there is a breakdown in trust — “Can we let that person go off on their own again?”
If you over-communicate what is going on with your team, then when something unforeseen does happen, nobody questions you.
They understand, they remember you making note of it well in advance, and if anything they trust you even more for having the confidence to speak up.
Communication is key.
5. Know Your Stuff
Especially if you are in a leadership position, people look to you for guidance.
They trust you as a leader because of your knowledge and experience.
That said, trust can be easily broken the moment you start to relax and no longer “know your stuff.” If you show up to meetings talking around the topic, or give feedback on a project you’ve barely looked at, people will know — and they will begin to question your judgment.
Show up, and know your stuff.
6. Be Honest When You Don’t Know The Answer
Contrary to the above, the flip-side advice here is to admit when you don’t know.
It’s far more respectable to say, “I’m not sure, but give me a few hours and I’ll find out,” than to spout off a bunch of meaningless fluff intended to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes.
Someone out there is a shepherd, and they will know.
Trust is built on honesty.
If you don’t know, then say so.
And then reinforce your value by stating how you’re going to find the solution.
7. In A Crisis, Never Give Up
And finally, the foundation of trust and the reason why it is so important in a business setting is because people want to know you’re in it for the long haul.
No matter what happens, no matter how bad something gets, never give up on your team and continue to move forward.
People want to know they can trust you to make it through the storm with them.
Once you’re out of the storm, that’s the time to make other decisions. But until then, your primary job and focus should be on keeping the team moving forward — or, if you are not in a leadership position, being a capable and willing participant.
This article originally appeared in Medium.