Five Actions to Take When You Hear, “I Don’t Trust You”

Lt Updated: Jun 23, 2018
Do your colleagues and employees think you’re trusty? And if they don’t, how do you go about building trust? Here are five things you can do.

Talking about trust is tough in business. When a colleague tells you, “I don’t trust you” your ft instinct is probably to react defensively or aggressively, and rarely with curiosity and an openness to understand. You take “I don’t trust you” an attack on your character and an afront to your integrity. But trust is the foundation for strong, productive relationships, tea, and organizations so it’s imperative that if you are told you are untrusty you need to change that ft.

In my research sessing hundreds of tea, I found that 70% of the variance between high and low performing tea centers on the quality of relationships of the team members. Additionally, top tea are 50 s more likely to successfully build and maintain trust than their less productive cousins. It’s nearly impossible to achieve common goals, talk about the toughest challenges, or collaborate across the organization without high trust.

The challenge is everyone sees and meures trust differently. People define trust and trustiness out of their own ps and life experiences. In my mind someone is trusty if they are authentic and real and interested in me and my ide. Trust is about connecting, about not being two-faced, not playing politics.

Bottom line, are you seen trusty? And how do you talk about trust without everyone getting bent out of shape? Here are a few ide:

1. “It all depends at how we look at things, and not how they are in theelves.” – Carl Jung. People have very different standards for judging if someone is trusty. For some people, it’s all about fulfilling commitments. Did you do what you said you would do? Are you accountable for your ? For others, it’s about authenticity, vulnerability, and connection. Did you show that you cared about them? Were you open and honest about who you are? Did you disclose something more personal about yourself that demonstrated trust? And yet for others, it’s about loyalty and candor. Did you stand up for me when I wn’t around? Did you gossip about me or tell me to my face?

If you want to be seen trusty by a variety of people who may all define trust differently, you have some work to do. You need to understand what trusty means to the important people in your life and to your key stakeholders at work. Know their expectations. Make the effort to meet their needs. You may want to k them the following questions:

2. “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” –Ernest Hemingway. much you want to be seen trusty, how hard do you make people work before they earn your trust? Some of us grant everyone trust right away, soon we meet them. We sume they deserve our trust until they break it. Some of us don’t trust anyone until they have earned it. But once they have, they enjoy unlimited trust with us. Think about how you extend trust to others and ensure you aren’t making it so difficult for others to earn your trust that you are preventing relationships from forming or progressing. Don’t “secret test” people. Let them know what you expect and help them build trust with you quickly. In business, we often don’t have the years we might enjoy in personal relationships to slowly build up trust. We have to form the team quickly. We have 3 months to complete the project. Others sense it when you are distrustful. By withholding trust, you may actually be creating a more difficult road for yourself to get things done at work. Don’t make others distrust you by being distrustful.

If you find it difficult to extend trust to someone you work closely with, k yourself the following questions to see if they can help you grant trust:

3. “Never ruin an apology with an excuse.” – Benjamin Franklin. If you break trust, own it immediately. Apologize fully. Most of the , we do not break trust with intent. We are not intending to break a commitment, share a confidence, take credit for someone else’s accomplishment. But stuff happens. When you believe you may have created distrust with someone else, confess quickly. Apologize for the impact. k how you can rebuild trust.

4. “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.” – Mahatma Ghandi. Practice forgiveness. Don’t hold others to impossible, perfect standards that you wouldn’t want to be held to. Remember that their mistake may be different than one you would make, but we all transgress. Be clear with others on your needs and your expectations. Create candor in your relationships. Tell others if you believe they have broken trust. Allow them to fix things and accept their apologies. Holding on to that wrong can really weigh you down. Being able to forgive is often more for you than the person you are forgiving and can help continue to build trust between you and your colleagues.

5. “Feedback is the breakft of champions.” – Ken Blanchard. If someone says they don’t trust you, don’t freak out. Don’t take it so personally that your righteous indignation keeps you from finding out what is at the core of this challenge. Remember, trust is a big word with many meanings. Dig in and find out what happened.

Relationships are clearly the foundation for strong tea, and in most organizations, work gets done on tea. You can’t build relationships if you don’t grant others trust and show yourself to be a trusty person. Don’t shy away from talking about trust at work. ciously work to build and rebuild trust with others. By starting with yourself, by being trusty and by extending trust, you may well be making the greatest contribon to your team that you will ever make.

Audrey Epstein is a partner at The Trispective Group and the co-author with Linda Ada, Abby Curnow-Chavez and Rebecca Tedale of The Loyalist Team: How Trust, Candor, and Authenticity Create Great Organizations. For more information, or to take a free team snapshot sessment, plee visit,

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