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10 Behaviors That Demonstrate Trust

Self-assessment: Do your actions make people trust you?

Fraught with multiple definitions, interpretations, risks, rewards, and expectations, trust is arguably the most misunderstood word at work. It's also one of the most important.

People mean different things when they use the word "trust." Ask five friends and you'll get five definitions. Plus there are different kinds of trust — confidence trust, competence trust, relationship trust, basic trust, authentic trust, organizational trust, self-trust, situational trust, and leadership trust — to name just a few.

Trust impacts business results, organizational alignment, innovation, staff engagement, relationships, and stakeholder confidence. Understanding what it means to be trusted at work, and what behaviors signal that you're worthy of someone else's trust, is far from simple.

Demonstrating Trust

We perceive ourselves as trusting and trustworthy, but do others perceive us that way? It's hard to accurately judge ourselves; to "see" our own behavior and its impact.

In fact, research confirms our self-blindness. We tend to rate ourselves higher, exclude ourselves from thinking we're "part of the problem," and often operate with a self-serving bias.

Gaining awareness about our actions and whether they build or diminish trust is an essential skill in a work-world where trust has become the new currency.

Take this quick self-appraisal to start your thinking about trust-building or trust-diminishing actions.

Here are 10 behaviors that demonstrate trust at work. How many are part of your operating style?

  1. You influence more by your actions than your words. You operate as the message, not the messenger, with an alignment between your words and actions.
  2. You are self-aware. You recognize the impact of your beliefs and actions on others and are tuned into others' needs, strengths, and perspectives.
  3. You give trust first. You realize authentic trust evolves incrementally over time, and the way to start or rebuild trust is to give it, using a dimmer-switch approach.
  4. You use trust elevating communication techniques. You own your message, actions, and mistakes and authentically show up in the process.
  5. You bring the best of who you are to your work. You operate from a best of self-core with characteristics like kindness, compassion, love, tolerance, trust, and integrity.
  6. You want the best for others. You aren't playing a work-game where only one or two people win and the rest don't, but help to make the pie bigger for everyone.
  7. You tell considered stories. You understand the stories you tell at work are impactful and choose stories that positively influence the culture and those in it.
  8. You operate with dependable politics. You get things done the "right" way, with ethics, integrity, and positive intention that builds relationships.
  9. You collaborate, cooperate, consider, and contribute. You value relationships and build lasting ones not only with what you do, but how you do it.
  10. You demonstrate competence as your starting point. You do what you say you can and will do, you do it well, and you enable others along the way.

Of course, there are lots more behaviors that demonstrate trust, and you'll find many in my new book, The Titleless Leader.

The bottom line is this — people don't give their ideas, discretionary efforts, enthusiasm, or best work to people they don't trust. Be the person they do give their trust to, and you'll harness the power of trust in your work group.

That's what trust is. It's power. Power to bring out the energy, talents, and gifts of individuals, to build teams, and to achieve amazing results.

You positively influence the environment of those you work with and those who work for you when you operate with trust.

About the Author
Nan S Russell

Nan S. Russell is a former corporate executive and the author of four books, including, Trust, Inc. and The Titleless Leader.

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