Building Trust: Beyond the Basics

Building trust matters in all aspects of leadership, whether at the office, with your family, at church, in the community or anywhere else.

The “why” is obvious. People need to trust you before they feel comfortable acting on what you say.

The “how” is a little more complex. Everyone knows that you need to be honest to be considered trustworthy. Reliability and consistency are also crucial factors. But then what?

Throughout my career in financial services and experience leading mission trips, I’ve found that there are several characteristics that can help you become not only trusted, but indispensable. Again, this applies not only to work, but also to all other aspects of your life.

  • Self awareness. Consider how your actions, including your words, affect others. “Read the room” and understand how others are receiving you.
  • Vulnerability. Be transparent, authentic and willing to share your mistakes and faults. You radiate trust when you have nothing to hide and let people in.
  • Listening skills. Don’t just hear what the other person is saying, but actively listen for understanding. Convey interest in what’s being said—and mean it. This encourages the other person to communicate more easily, openly and honestly.
  • Picking up on-verbal cues. But don’t stop at listening! You also have to pay attention to non-verbal communication and what the other person’s body language is telling you.
  • Not having all the answers. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know something. Vowing to find out and get back to them or introducing them to the expert is a better option than fibbing your way through an answer.
  • Matching words and actions. Say what you mean and mean what you say. And then back that up by matching your actions with your words. If you promise to do something, follow through.
  • Taking ownership. Leaders need to be accountable for their actions. If something doesn’t go as planned, you need to be able to explain why and how you will remedy the situation.
  • Being receptive to feedback. Instead of fearing that someone will have something negative to say about you, view feedback as a gift. It’s an opportunity to learn, improve and make adjustments.

People are more willing to invest their time and talents in causes when they believe that the leaders are trustworthy. High trust levels lead to a greater sense of self responsibility, greater interpersonal insight and more collective action toward achieving common goals. Developing the characteristics above will help you—and your team—get the results you’re looking for.

Rob Masengill can be reached at 865-766-3098 or [email protected].

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