Cornerstone of Trust-P3


Over the course of the last two days I shared why trust at work is important, and the benefits of trust in the landscape of conflict, today we'll cover how to build trust. Warning these points will be simple, yet hard (but isn't everything that's generally good for us).


Spend more non-work time together.


Generally the more time with a person, the more you'll get to know them. You'll learn about their personal history, passions, joys, and dislikes. You can't learn this when you don't spend time with them. But the time you spend with them, needs to be outside of the context of work. All this means is in order to start building trust, you must spend time with the person not talking about work but life. This is true from clients to peers.

Simple ideas to encourage this:

  1. Have a specific question to initiate general socializing (aka building trust) at the beginning of client meetings.
  2. Set aside weekly times to hang with co-workers. Lunch together, or walk to coffee.
  3. Have monthly or quarterly hangout sessions - game nights, karaoke, putt-putt.


Practice the art of positive assumptions.


Sadly it's our natural tendency to assume the worst. When the client doesn't say anything right after the deliverable, or your boss calls you into the office, our mind wonders into the territory of negativity. The same happens when people say or do something that stirs dissonance. Instead of assuming the best, which takes intentional effort, we project ill intentions on the statement or actions. This creates a rift in the relationship that eventually starts dismantling the bridge of trust that you've worked so hard to create.

Here's some positive assumption examples:

  • Maybe they don't know how it hurts me.
  • Maybe they don't know all the information.
  • Maybe I don't know all the information.
  • Maybe there's something in the past that triggers this emotion in them.


Seek clarity.


I've been there, a repeated thing a person said or did heavily weighs me down. It's like an oppressive blanket that we struggle to stand underneath. At this point there's no way to take the blanket off but by addressing it to the person. Still practicing positive assumptions, we have need to step onto that trust bridge. 

One way to tackle the situation is to practice the sandwich (postivie, negative, positive):

  1. Express the value of their relationship to you, and to the project.
  2. Share they can help you understand something that happened.
    • Outline the event
    • Share your interpretation
    • Ask what was their intent to clarify
  3.  Even if you resolution wasn't achieved, thank them for their time and add another positive.

Continue with the first two steps. You won't gel with all people, and they won't with you. But that doesn't mean we can't trust them.