Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


15 Communication Mistakes That Can Diminish Trust

Common approaches that negatively impact trust

Less than half of us trust "content from a company CEO," while nearly three-quarters of us "trust information posted by friends and family on social media, blogs and other digital sites," according to the 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer.

When it comes to communication credibility, believably, and trust, skeptical has grown cynical in many societal sectors. And the workplace is one of them. Yet, many of us contribute to reduced trust often without knowing it.

Beware these 15 common communication mistakes that can diminish trust at work. If someone surveyed your colleagues or work team about your communication style, how many would they say apply to you?

  1. Bingimage-free to use and share
    Source: Bingimage-free to use and share

    You pass along rumors without first checking facts, or repeat comments about coworkers without knowing if they're truth or fiction.

  2. You don't respond to others' messages or when you do it's after the fact. Yet when you want something from someone else, you're all over it.
  3. You influence or create procedures or policies, or you help communicate them, yet you don't follow them yourself.
  4. You over-share about your relationships or outside activities, expecting others to do the same or you label them not "transparent" or "unauthentic."
  5. You use a communication hatchet when a feather would suffice.
  6. You dance around difficult questions, not providing clear information for others to make informed, good decisions in their areas of responsibilities.
  7. You make assumptions about what motivates others, what they want from work, or how they'd like to be communicated with, instead of asking them.
  8. If you're unhappy with someone's work, you tell everyone but that person, choosing indirect versus direct communication styles.
  9. You share information or stories that aren't personally yours to share, including information told to you in confidence.
  10. You don't take your own words seriously, often over-promising and under-delivering, or hyping what you've done or might do.
  11. You're silent on important issues but have plenty to say later about who's to blame or what department dropped the ball.
  12. You're quick to claim credit; slow or non-existent in offering thanks or acknowledgement for others' ideas, involvement, or assistance.
  13. Your feedback is delivered as personal attacks or shortcomings, not helpful insights or suggestions for improvement.
  14. Your actions don't back up your words.
  15. You think communication is about the method used to convey information, not the dialogue and discussion needed for understanding, buy-in, and trusted relationships.
Bingimage-free to use and share
Source: Bingimage-free to use and share

Common, every day communication mistakes and habits impact trust levels. If you want to more trust at work, start with yourself - eliminate your own common communication mistakes.

More tips about workplace trust:

Your Trusted Inner Circle at Work
How to Step Toward Trust in Cultures of Distrust
What Every Leader Should Know About Trust and Influence
The Problem with a Trust-but-Verify Approach

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

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.

More from Nan S Russell
More from Psychology Today
More from Nan S Russell
More from Psychology Today