How to Be a Trust-Creator in an Era of Distrust

Give what's missing

Posted Dec 17, 2015

We live in an era of distrust. Trust in government is at historic lows, so is trust in media. And at work, distrust flourishes. So, in these distrusting times, how can you be a trust-creator? How can you to swim against this cultural distrust tide?

The good news is there's plenty you can do. Start where you are at the local or group level. Be the person who operates with the positive behaviors that are missing. When you consistently bring balance, perspective, courage, and insight to your work, you can build trust, at least with your own team.

Pay attention to what's missing in your work group; then start being the person who gives the behavior that's missing. Here are a few examples:

Bing Image - free to use and share
Source: Bing Image - free to use and share
  • If everyone is saying one thing but doing another, what's missing is behavioral integrity (i.e. word-action alignment).
  • If everyone is blind to the ripple of their actions, what's missing is self-awareness.
  • If everyone is disengaged, what's missing is passionate engagement.
  • If everyone is hoarding information, what's missing is thoughtful transparency.
  • If everyone is out for him or herself, what's missing is relationship building.
  • If everyone is playing dark side politics, what's missing is positive intention.
  • If everyone is finding fault, what's missing is appreciation and recognition.  
  • If everyone is in agreement, what's missing is different perspective.
  • If everyone is focused on short-term gains, what's missing is long-term thinking.
  • If everyone is shouting, what's missing is quiet reason.
  • If everyone is pointing fingers, what's missing is accountability.
  • If everyone is waiting for others to earn their trust, what's missing is giving trust first.

How you give, create, build, and nurture trust doesn't depend on what people think is happening "out there." It depends on what is happening "in here" with their work group, boss, or situation.

People want to trust you even in an era of distrust. Give them a reason and they likely will. The science behind what makes us trust or not trust offers this reality: We need connection and want to trust. You increase your trust-building odds by sending clear signals. One way to do that is to give the behavior that's missing.

More trust building tips:

You'll find five trust essentials in my book: Trust, Inc.: How to Create a Business Culture That Will Ignite Passion, Engagement, and Innovation