You’ve heard it time and time again — relationships matter. Relationships are the basis of any good business, and trust is the basis for any relationship. Your ability to build trust is a key factor in your ability to build and maintain a relationship, and it will ultimately have a great impact on your personal and professional success.
By the same token, when you lose trust, you often lose a relationship (and business) with it. The ability to foster trust isn’t just a soft skill that’s nice to have. In today’s relationship-fueled business world, it’s a requirement. Ultimately, high trust in a relationship makes everything go faster, and when things move faster, costs go down and profits go up. If you make building a high trust work environment a top priority, you’ll see it on your bottom line while simultaneously expanding your sphere of influence.
When people see your behavior, both personally and professionally, they make judgments about your motives and your abilities, and they choose whether or not they find you trustworthy. There are 3 driving factors of people’s perceptions of your trustworthiness that you need to be aware of:
- Authenticity. In order to trust you, people need to know you. They can’t know you through a facade that you put up or through a filter- it needs to be the real you. Authenticity begins with self-knowledge and self awareness, and is furthered by your actions and behaviors. Do you act on your own accord, or are you heavily influenced by external circumstances? Do you maintain the alignment of your values? Are you who you say you are, and can other people see that? Ask yourself these questions to determine whether or not you’re being perceived as an authentic person.
- Character. Authenticity is a pre-requisite for trust, but it’s not enough. You need to live by the principles that govern effective relationships; you need to have character. Are you respectful? This shows your ability to work well with others. Humble? This shows an ability to take constructive feedback and a willingness to admit mistakes. Responsible? This shows that you can be trusted to perform tasks to fruition. Empathetic? This shows that you can get a feel for other people’s situations. Kind? This shows that you’re benevolent. Courageous? This shows that you’re willing to do what’s right, even if it isn’t always easy.The above list is by no means exhaustive. There are countless other good qualities that go into people’s perception of your character.
- Competence. This is situational, but still crucial. Do people see you as having knowledge, skill, and experience in the area in which trust is required? For instance- someone may be a fair, kind, trustworthy, and highly competent chef, but that doesn’t mean that they’re going to be of much help when you get sick and need to see a doctor. You’d want to go to a trained medical professional, because they’re competent in the area that’s important to your situation. Trust is ultimately conferred upon us by others, so they need to perceive competence where it’s required.
There is also a 4th factor, which is more of a catalyst than a core piece of the trust puzzle: Likability. While not an absolute requirement, it can multiple the effectiveness of the three other core ingredients dramatically, and it can work wonders when it comes to building trust and a relationship.
In addition to the above four factors, there are nine principles that you should live every day which will do wonders for your personal and professional relationships.
- Be transparent. Let people see the real you.
- Let your guard down. Trust others as you’d want them to trust you, within reason.
- Share personal and professional information freely and appropriately.
- Do what you say you will do. This is key in establishing facets of your character that will ultimately show people your ability to follow through on your promises.
- Don’t promise something you cant deliver. Think about your honest ability to provide whatever it is that you promise before you make it.
- Develop clear expectations with people. This will save you confusion down the road.
- Make the other person feel heard. It’s easy to focus on our own wants and needs, but it’s crucial that you make the other person feel as though you’re truly understanding their wants and needs as well.
- Apologize sincerely. Mistakes happen, and it’s important that you own up to them.
- Forgive others when they make mistakes. Just as you would want to be forgiven, you must practice being forgiving as well.
By adhering to the above nine principles and consistently demonstrating your authenticity, character, competence, and likability, you ensure that people perceive you as a trustworthy person. You should constantly strive to improve your trustworthiness, as it will continually benefit both your personal and professional relationships, and ultimately your bottom line.