Trust Yourself and Others

Q: How can I learn to trust myself and to trust others? Why is it so important?

A: Bestselling author and leadership expert Stephen M.R. Covey, writes about trust in his recent book, The Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything. He argues that especially in our fast-paced and constantly changing world, trust is the one thing that builds both companies and relationships.In his book, he explains the four different core qualities that you need to have in order to create high trust relationships with others: integrity, intent, capabilities, and results.

Those qualities are developed with effort, over longer periods of time. So what can you do in your day-to-day interactions to develop more trust between you and those around you?

  • Tell it like it is. Communicate with honesty (and tact!). Don’t say one thing and mean another. People will not trust you if you aren’t honest with them.
  • Be transparent. If you make a mistake, let people know. Don’t try to hide it or whitewash it.
  • Give credit. If someone does something positive, let them and others know. Don’t give them credit to their face and then take credit later when they are not around.
  • Treat others the way you would like to be treated. Don’t expect others to be comfortable with behavior that would make you upset.
  • Be clear about expectations. Define your expectations for business (and relationships to a lesser extent) upfront. This way, there is no chance of a miscommunication later. Hearing what others have to say, and truly listening to them will allow you to build trust with each other.
  • Keep commitments. If you say you are going to do something or be somewhere, do it or be there! Breaking commitments can truly damage the trust in a relationship or business.
  • Trust those who earn it. When you feel that you trust someone, show them that you trust them by being vulnerable, give them the opportunity to demonstrate that the trust is mutual. That said, be careful that you do not extend your trust to those who have not earned it.

Covey’s book had a lot of interesting points about the power of trust in the workplace and in relationships. Perhaps he has overplayed the importance of trust, but ultimately, he is right in arguing that it is the foundation of anything that involves more than one person. You can only improve yourself by improving your trust in yourself, in others, and other’s trust in you.

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