10 Tips for Building Trust

One day last January, I watched as eight inches of snow piled up one morning. My neighbor, Gene proceeds to go out and shovel his driveway. It must’ve taken him an hour of back-breaking work. Then surprisingly, I watch him as he walks to my yard and shovel MY driveway — it took him over an hour!

Now, if Gene ever needs a “favor” from me, he has it — yes? Although he didn’t do it for this reason, by selflessly giving to others, you sort of create an invisible ‘bank account’ — if you never give of yourself or your time or money, don’t expect much of the same in return.

Tip# 1: Build a reputation for benevolence, or doing something kind, helpful or useful for someone else.
Practice doing something for someone else every day for no apparent (ulterior motive) reason, and watch your trust build — it could be as simple as a handwritten thank you note. Ever see the movie, “Pay It Forward?” If not, go rent it and watch it for a good example of this tip and principle.

You can feel a sense of benevolence in many ways, some of which include:

• They consistently put your interests ahead of their own.
• They ensure that in any conflict, you’ll feel as if you came out better than they did, even if they had to lose something in order to reach a consensus.
• They under-promise and over-deliver.
• They have a “servant attitude” — it is clear that they are there to serve others, and if you needed someone at a crucial time, you could count on them.

Tip# 2: Become more competent every day.
Think about this: You’re either ‘green and growing’ as a person, or ‘ripe and rotting.’ Embrace lifelong learning. Realize that besides your faith, the biggest contributor to an increased sense of HOPE is continuing education, seminars, books, etc. Competence breeds trust!

Tip# 3: Remember that a decision sets you free!
Mike Litman says that more is lost in indecision, than in making the wrong decision. You have to trust yourself, once you’ve done the research, to make a decision. Like Nike says, “Just Do It.”

Procrastination kills countless great ideas. The achievers of this world treat ‘mistakes’ NOT as failures, but as learning lessons. Like Mike Litman also says, “Don’t get it perfectly right, just get it going!” Be willing to trust your gut, guys – or your intuition, ladies more than you do today.

Tip# 4: Walk your talk.
Remember when you mother or father would say something that you shouldn’t do, and then do it themselves? A lack of congruence — a match between what you say and DO — is critically important to building and maintaining trust. Consistency breeds trust. Be very slow and careful about what you promise. Under-promise and you’ll over-deliver and build trust.

Tip# 5: Be transparent — be authentic and genuine, with no ‘masks.’
Like it or not, we all tend to wear a sort-of “mask” or façade, depending on the situation and people we find ourselves. In my experience, those people who are most transparent about their true intent tend to be trusted the most. They don’t play games; they don’t behave differently in one situation or another. They are also open to being vulnerable, sharing their emotions, deepest thoughts or important life wisdom.

Tip# 6: Have unquestionable integrity.
This is a HUGE problem in the world today. I have someone at least once a week tell me a story of how they can’t find honorable, trustworthy employees to hire. You may not agree with me, but in my and others’ opinions, there is a war going on between good and evil. You want greater trust with people? Great, then if you violate a sense of ethics or morality, your boat is sunk. You have to be trusted at your word, period.

I graduated from West Point, the US Military Academy and served in the US Army. West Point’s Honor Code reads, “I will not lie, cheat or steal NOR tolerate those who do.” So, let’s say you observe your work buddy lifting a few boxes of CD disks from the office supply room — do you turn your back, or question him (and/or report him?) It’s about doing the “harder right than the easier wrong.” If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for everything.

Tip# 7: Create light by over-communicating.
True trust-building leaders communicate often and well so that people feel “in on things.” Don’t you like to feel like you’re “IN on things,” and rarely feel as if you’ve been left in the dark? Think of leaders that you’ve enjoyed working with in the past — didn’t they ‘over-communicate,’ constantly worked to make sure you felt in the loop, had seldom surprises because they saw communication as light in a dark room?

When you ask a child to do something, often they ask the simple question, “Why?” Adults are no different (we’re all just grown-up kids) and they want to understand the reasons ‘why’ it should be done, or why in that manner.

Tip# 8: Be emotionally intelligent.
1. Take full responsibility for who you are, where you at right now in life, and no excuses or rationalization.

2. Admitting when they don’t know something or better, surrounding themselves with very competent people in the areas that the leader is marginal or not an expert

3. Trusts others by delegating and empowering other people while not abdicating their own ultimate responsibility. They gently inspect what they expect.

4. Emotionally mature: when they make a mistake, they admit it quickly and sincerely.

Tip# 9: “Can I be honest with you?” is a great compliment to hear…
I have people constantly ask me, “Charlie can I be honest with you?” I sometimes say, “Well, of course … but what you have been until this point in time — dishonest?” What they are saying is one of several things:

• If I share this with you, will you keep in confidential?
• If I share this with you, will you also give me YOUR HONEST opinion (be careful)?
• This goes “against the grain” of what others are commonly thinking or saying, so here’s how I really stand on this issue or question…

The point here is that people want to be honest with one another, but constantly are concerned about office politics, being politically correct and other generally unjustifiable concerns. If you’re the type of person who commonly has people say to you, “Can I be honest with you?” it’s a good sign that you’re on the right path to being more trustworthy.

Tip# 10: When all else fails, remember that a thought of FEAR and a thought of FAITH or Courage cannot exist in the mind at the same time.
Probably the best, recent example of a benevolent company leader is the true story of a Massachusetts company whose manufacturing building burned to the ground, and whose owner continued payrolls until the plant was re-constructed. Loyalty breeds trust.
When your mind is filled with thoughts of faith, confidence, hope, charity and positive expectancy, fear has little ground in which to take root — and that helps you maintain trust — about people, organizations and the future.


  1. #1 by Randy Pena on May 19, 2012 - 3:20 pm

    A friend of mine just emailed me one of your articles from a while back. I read that one a few more. Really enjoy your blog. Thanks

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