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Ten Ways to Cultivate Work Relationships and Grow Trust

Trust building is relationship building.

New data from Gallup reminds us what we already know: "trust and confidence in the federal government's ability to handle problems has reached an all-time low.” But, it's not just historic low trust in government.

According to one news agency, trust in sports is at a crossroads or as they put it: "Who will want to watch great sporting achievement that cannot be believed?” Or consider this headline grabber: "82 Percent of People Don't Trust the Boss to Tell the Truth.”

From government shutdown rancor and fact-lacking finger-pointing to win-any-way-you-can athletes and winner-take-all executive pay plans, too many people are operating as if their relationships at work—those with constituents, stakeholders, or colleagues are unimportant.

From my-way-or-the-highway bosses and face-in-gadget communicators messaging what they don't have the courage to say face to face, people are forgetting that their actions speak. What are your actions saying about your relationships?

If your actions aren't worthy of someone giving you their trust, then what you're communicating is that those relationships don't matter to you. If you don't want their trust, then you're not interested in or don't value being in a relationship with them.

Bottom line: trust building is relationship building. If you don't build trust, you don't build relationships. No trust–no relationship; limited trust–limited relationship; strong trust–strong relationship.

Philosopher Onora O'Neill in a TEDtalk entitled "What We Don't Understand About Trust” crystallized it when she said, "You can't rebuild what other people give to you. But, you can provide useable evidence that you are worthy of their trust.”

How do you provide evidence that you want your customers or staff or stakeholders to give you their trust? You must first demonstrate that the relationship matters.

Growing Trust in Your Work Relationships

Relationships that enable trust and bring exceptional results don't happen unless there's a conscious intention to make them happen. That intention starts with common-sense approaches around basic relationship building. Below are 10 ways to demonstrate that a work relationship matters.Trust grows in relationships when …

  • The relationships are mutually beneficial
  • When you bring the best of who you are into the relationship; the best includes core elements like integrity, tolerance, honesty, and trustworthiness
  • When you want the best for the other person
  • When the relationship is more important than any single outcome
  • When you invest time, communication, commitment, and authenticity
  • When you show genuine care, concern, and compassion
  • When you operate with appreciation, politeness, and inclusion
  • When you give more than you take, while still keeping your interests in view
  • When you help others achieve their aspirations, dreams, goals, or personal best
  • When you respect where others are coming from - knowledge, experience, state of mind, values, beliefs, needs

Trust may be at historic lows, but so what? Trust is a local issue. If you want more trust in your work relationships, start with yourself. A practice of trust building is a practice of relationship building. If you want to grow trust or rebuild broken trust, focus on building your relationships.

None of us achieve exceptional results alone. Relationships founded on trust come with great benefits. Benefits like engagement, innovation, accountability, mutual support, collaboration, cooperation, and the ability to do great work together. Don't let what you read in the headlines stop you. Your trust levels can soar.

More about the trust currency you need in the new workplace and how to build it:

You'll find more trust building approaches in Trust, Inc.: How to Create a Business Culture That Will Ignite Passion, Engagement, and Innovation (Career Press, 2013).

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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