Trust is the foundation of any relationship. Developing trust is like constructing a house. It takes time, and it must be done piece by piece. As with a building, it’s much easier to tear down trust than it is to build it up.

We take for granted that the buildings we enter—homes, offices, restaurants, and retail stores—have been properly constructed. We don’t worry about the roof collapsing on our head, nor do we fret about falling through the floor. We trust the structural integrity of the building so completely that we do not even question whether or not it is fit for occupancy. When walking through the building, we have absolutely no concerns about our safety.

As a leader, you’re looking to develop that same sort of trust in your people. You want them to rely on you, and to have complete confidence in your integrity. You want them to be assured of your dependability to the point where they feel completely secure and where they do not even question your motives because they’re so certain that you have their best interests at heart.

Returning to the previous analogy, one of the reasons we’re able to trust the soundness of buildings is that they must be constructed according to rigorous standards. These building codes ensure the safety of all occupants. Inspectors routinely check that buildings are constructed, renovated, and maintained in keeping with these regulations.

In like manner, relationships thrive when we follow a set of basic standards—let’s call them “trust builders.” When we conduct ourselves in line with these standards, we build durable relationships with strong foundations. 

Trust Builders

1) Keeping Your Word

Being a person of your word involves reliably keeping promises so that others can count on you to honor your commitments. It also means living consistently so that your actions align with your professed values. Finally, keeping your word demands integrity, acting in a forthright and truthful manner, so that others can be sure that you sincerely mean what you say.

2) Show Respect

People can sniff out inauthenticity, and they will withhold trust from someone whom they sense does not respect them. You’ll never go far in leadership if you secretly look down on others. Attune yourself to see the best in your teammates, and communicate that you value them and that you appreciate their contributions.

3) Speak the Truth in Love

We trust people who help us discover the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable. Often, the shortest path to a trusting relationship crosses through feelings of discomfort. The truth isn’t always pleasant, but people will trust you more when they become accustomed to being challenged by you occasionally. If you help people confront reality, and to make positive changes as a result, their trust in you will grow.

Thought to Ponder

Inspect your relationships. Are they constructed according to the appropriate standards? That is, are you keeping your word, demonstrating respect for others, and courageously speaking the truth in love?

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