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The Art and Science of Trust — 7 Proven Ways You Can Master It

“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” ~ Stephen R. Covey

Do people trust you? And are you a person who trusts easily? If you’re like most people, you have trust issues, especially if you’ve been abused, lied to or cheated. It hurts!  And when it comes to trusting ourselves, we’ve experienced a lifetime of ignoring our inner voices or second-guessing ourselves. More than ever, we need to hone our understanding of the art and science of trust and learn to master it.

We trust constantly — that the sun will come up, the driver will stop at the stop sign, the bank will give us our money and the doctors will do what’s best for our health. Yet most issues of trust take an enormous amount of emotional and mental energy because they involve risk. 

And even though we’re taught to keep emotion out of business, trust — a very emotional issue — forms the backbone of business success. Your customers have to know, like and trust you. And any collaboration between team members requires trust, otherwise, it is not a team. 

Therefore, it’s advantageous to work on our own trustworthiness, so we can inspire and lead others toward greater understanding and application of the art and science of trust. After all, we can’t expect it of others, if we don’t display it ourselves. 

Whether in the corporate world or in our family life, here are seven suggestions that you can use to assess yourself and perhaps even finetune your next interaction…

1. Be honest with yourself. Your body sensations (sweaty palms, tense muscles, stomach) will tell you when you’re saying “yes” when you want to say “no”. Or if you’re trying to operate in a pipe dream, rather than how the situation really is.  

To practice: become more sensitive to what your body is telling you, as you strive for your authenticity.

2. Strive to be your best. Unrealistic expectations lead to procrastination and laziness and they keep you from living up to your potential, from living your truth. 

To practice: let go of perfectionism and take ownership of your performance. Keep learning and improve your skills so you can deliver consistent (aka trustworthy) results. As Lincoln Chafee said, “Trust is built with consistency.” 

3. Keep your promises. Follow through is so essential. Stephen Covey makes this point, “When you make a commitment, you build hope. When you keep it, you build trust.” This would include unsaid, but implied trust, when someone shares confidential information with you.

To practice: ask if you can share the information. For each promised outcome, outline your process — how you’re going to do it and by what deadline. This will help avoid confusion or misunderstandings.

4. Communicate clearly where you stand. Waffling, withholding information, misleading, or manipulating others, destroys trust. When we give honest and direct feedback in a kind manner, we build trust and confidence. This is key to good communication. 

To practice: revisit your values, beliefs, and ethics, so you’re convinced that you’re standing on solid ground. Be candid and kind. Avoid hidden agendas.

5. Take responsibility and apologize. Hiding an injury makes the matter worse. Be upfront and own your part in the situation.

To practice: pride or fear may be getting in your way. It helps to write about the incident in your journal, express your desired, positive outcome, and outline what you’re going to say to make the other person feel whole again.

6. Keep looking for the good in others. Giving up on ourselves and others, refusing to trust again, ramps up negative energy that spirals out of control. Truly care about other people and treat them with respect. Of course, we have to be judicious about whom we trust. However, for the people you choose to trust, show your trust in tangible ways. 

To practice: work at putting the welfare of someone ahead of your own…smile, open a door, let someone go first, give a compliment, delegate, promote someone. Avoid gossip, criticism and micromanaging like the plague. It builds your trust muscle, when you see, and appreciate, each act of reciprocity.

7. Champion accountability. Don’t blame others or make excuses when things go wrong. Analyze the situation and help each person to hold themselves accountable.

To practice: examine how a communication breakdown or lack of clear direction contributed. Don’t be in a hurry to get started on a project. First, clearly outline the processes needed for accomplishing each task and assign who is responsible for each. Invite questions and discussion so everyone is on the same page. No one is a mind reader!

Feeling confident in your own skin and being able to communicate clearly are keys to the art and science of trust. It makes you open to hearing others’ viewpoints, without feeling challenged or dismissed. It focuses on giving more than on taking. 

Now’s the perfect time to open up to new opportunities for personal growth. My colleague Louise Santiago and I are firming up our arrangements for our 3rd annual Bring Forth the Leader Within Retreat during January 15-22, 2022. Yes, our in-person retreat is ON! We’re ready to gently, but decisively, start moving forward in our lives. Are you? Then please join us.


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