But Can I Trust You?

Sadly, it’s happened to just about all of us in the business situation. That employee you trusted; that company you loved to work with; the co-worker you believed – proved to be untrustworthy.

Do you remember what that felt like? Did you feel the pain, the disbelief, and then the slow realization that I did, when you knew for certain the one you had so trusted was, in fact, not trustworthy? Or how about the company who “guarantees” their goods or services, when you find out they are actually going to charge you more than the price of a new unit, or a new service, to make good on their guarantee?

At one point, and maybe still, the issue of trust spawned an entire trust-building industry, getting the big bucks for building trust in the workplace with death-defying, other-dependent “life leaps” into a group of co-workers with outstretched arms to catch. Or scaling a cliff, trusting your partner to keep you from plunging into the abyss below.

For many, these activities seemed effective in their organizations. In reality, there’s a bit more involved than a weekend, or even a week of putting yourself through all this trust building – although it may not be as much fun!

Now think of a book you may have read, or listened to recently – or maybe one that has stuck with you through the years. Was the absence of trust, or the destruction of trust an issue of the plot, as it so often is?

And why do you suppose so many authors build in, and work with this lack of trust as a device, as a technique in their books?

Because lack of trust creates tension – in fiction, in the workplace – in history!

It’s all about trust.

Building trust extends far beyond a consideration of the words and phrases, the writing strategies we could discuss to make people believe you, trust you.

Aristotle believed trust to be made up of three elements: (1) competence; (2) consistent honesty; and (3) favorable intentions toward the listener. As critical and time-tested as these three are, there still remains a bit more to it:

You have to be believable! To earn trust continuously, day after day. Your actions – everything you do – must consistently prove you worthy of being trusted.

Do you consistently deliver what you’ve promised – when, and how you have promised it? Are your words, behavior, and mannerisms consistent? Are you really who you show yourself to be? Can you be relied on to be competent, and capable with what you say you can do?

Misleading can be as big a trust-breaker as an outright lie – either is virtually impossible to recover from. Are you scrupulously honest?

Do you follow up as promised? Do you have a careless, or flippant attitude about keeping promises? Do you consider, and are you concerned about the possible consequences of your actions?

Do you communicate clearly, concisely, truthfully? In appropriate detail, and frequently enough? Are you a good listener? Do you gain trust by taking the time to understand and consider others’ points of view?

Do you absolutely avoid gossip (a certain trust-buster)? Do you consistently and honestly credit the work and contributions of others?

Are you trustworthy?

If you could think of three words your customers, clients, co-workers, employer, family, and friends might use to describe you, what three words would you choose? What three would they choose? Are honesty and integrity included in your list? In theirs?

How people trust you – or not – creates your present, and builds your future – and your organization’s as well.


Gail Tycer offers business writing workshops and presentations; executive coaching, consulting, writing, and editing services. Call Gail at 503/292-9681, or email gail@gailtycer.com to learn more.

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