How Trustworthy are You?
Newspaper headlines focus on a never ending series of trust breaches in institutions, government, politicians, CEO’s, and companies. Because trust has been breached, everyone is inconvenienced. Long security lines at the airport, extra hoops to go through when applying for a loan, and lots of fine print to read and re-read. Companies produce large employee policy manuals because of previous situations where people have taken advantage.
And the reduced levels of trust have become personal with individuals being more suspicious of their co-workers, and their manager. And the manager being suspicious of employees.
And all of this mistrust puts a drag on relationships and increases costs.
Of course, when asked, most people would say they are trustworthy. If that were true, the overall level of trust should be higher. And while a few bad apples may indeed spoil the bunch, there are many small trust breaches that might go unnoticed.
Accidental Erosion of Trust
One of the easiest and most frequent ways to erode trust is to over-promise and under-deliver. Promises create expectations and when the results don’t match those expectations, trust diminishes. This could happen when a company over-hypes its service in its advertising, only to disappoint when you visit the store. Or it could happen when you promise to do something and don’t do it.
Personally, my challenge is that I like to please others and that might cause me to promise to send something sooner than is possible or practical. While the intention was good (make others happy), the outcome was the opposite (disappoint others).
The solution is to make commitments you are prepared to keep and keep them.
Repairing Broken Trust
Inevitably all of us will have our trust breached and chances are we will breach the trust of others. Some believe that trust can never be rebuilt once broken, but it can, at least in most cases.
• Trust repair begins with being able to admit when you are wrong.
• Being transparent about your situation and your motives creates authenticity.
• Ensuring alignment between what you commit to do and delivering on that commitment is essential.
For some this means avoiding over-promising, and for others it means getting better at delivering results that match expectations.
Trust then Verify
Many of us are willing to extend trust until there is evidence that the trust is misplaced. Blind trust could get you into trouble because there are people who will breach trust and take advantage of you. A friend shared that his policy is to trust, then verify. Keeping your guard up can protect you from unscrupulous people and companies.
Focus on creating high-levels of trust with others by communicating clearly, clarifying expectations and delivering on your commitments. High levels of trust will create greater success in leadership, in sales and in life.
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