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Five Trust Building Don'ts

Closing the Trust Deficit at Work

Reminders of the perils of trusting continue to fill headlines - from collegiate football player Manti Te'o's catfish saga and seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong's doping admission, to a former New Orleans mayor indicted on corruption charges related to the Katrina recovery efforts, it's hard to know who you can trust.

Add these recurring societal themes to the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer's confirmation of the continuing trust deficit plaguing our industries and workplace: "Less than one in five respondents believes a business or governmental leader will actually tell the truth when confronted with a difficult issue."

It makes one wonder if it's time to accept that we live in an era of distrust? Perhaps. But it doesn't have to be that way. If you want more trusting relationships where you work, no matter your role, you can create them. Use these five trust building don'ts to get you started:

1. Don't let the headlines and statistics stop you

. There have always been and always will be, people who want to sell you today's equivalent of "The Brooklyn Bridge." There will always be some who game the system, take advantage of others, and hijack another's work. You may not be able to change that world, but you can affect yours. Trust at work is a local issue. Build trust there.

1. Don't let the headlines and statistics stop you

2. Don't think you're trusted, or not trusted, based on role. Behaviors, not titles, are the new standard for determining those who are worthy of receiving our trust. People trust people who are self-aligned, where actions and words match; people who help others thrive; who authentically show up with best-of-self actions; and those who contribute to the greater whole. Trust building behaviors are grounded in integrity and positive intention, not assigned by title or role.

3. Don't listen to "experts" who insist trust must start at the top. It's great if it does, but there's no need to wait for "them" to start a company trust-building initiative. No one needs permission to build their own pocket of excellence founded on authentic trust. Look around for those high energy departments or teams getting great results where you work, and you'll find thriving, trusting relationships. Nothing is stopping you from creating your own.

4. Don't let herd following sway you. There's a difference between something legal and something ethical; something in compliance, and something fair; something one turns a blind eye to, and something one is compelled to address. Whether it's cost cutting, pressure to go-along-to-get along, or unacceptable or illegal actions of coworkers or bosses, the connection between ethics, integrity, accountability and trust cannot be overstated. Sometimes trust requires courage.

5. Don't think accountability is about "them." Most people apply the accountability word to other's results and actions. They want other people to be more accountable. When trust is broken or things go wrong, they want to "hold someone accountable." But if you want to build trust, first apply accountability to yourself. When we own what we do or don't do, and hold ourselves accountable for what occurs, good or not, we become people others can count on. Be that kind of person and you'll build trust.

Even in an era where skeptical has turned cynical about everyone from politicians to priests, and CEO's to athletes, anyone in any role, can operate with trust. Knowing how to build trust is the new workplace essential for those wanting great relationships, engaged groups, creative innovation, and exceptional results.

More trust building tips:



About the Author

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