Trust is a two way street that you need in order to maximize your career.
When we built our billion company between five partners in just five years, it was due to the deep level of trust we had in each other. It’s not uncommon to assume some level of trust in a new relationship, especially co-founders or employees in a startup or rapidly growing company. But how do you create such a deep trust that it accelerates everything? The question isn’t: Should you trust? It’s: How do you build trust so your relationship, and hopefully company, can grow and thrive? Before you can build trust, you have to understand what it means to you and your employees or partners. Clearly communicating your expectations and understanding what the other person needs is the foundation for building a long-lasting relationship. So, why is it so hard to build trust?
The problem is we tend to shy away from these conversations when a relationship is new based on several fears (i.e. perception, lack of confidence, ego, risk of trust, etc.). And by not having the conversation, assumptions are made which can lead to disagreements and even betrayal down the road. Take the time to understand what your partners, and even employees, are looking for in a working relationship and make sure your needs are expressed. Then start with decisions that utilize small steps in your trust building efforts. When you begin there, building trust becomes much easier. Here are ten ways you can build trust with other people:
Earn It. Don’t assume trust exists and always be working to earn it. When we stop taking trust for granted and make it a priority, we will be conscious of our actions and the perceptions of those actions to our partners.
Keep your Promises. It makes sense that we want to keep promises we make to our partners, but often the little things get overlooked. Make keeping your promises about little things as important as keeping your promises about the big things.
Keep Secrets. Do not keep secrets from each other, instead keep them for each other. Keep your personal conversations at home. It is only right to talk about something once you hear your partner bring the subject up in a conversation. Also realize, he or she might share information only with certain people. It’s his/her story, so let them tell it and follow their lead.
Communicate Openly and Frequently. Make it a rule that most communication, especially important subject matter, must happen in person. The true meaning of a message can get lost via text, email and sometimes even on the phone. Make sure you are both heard and understood the same thing by talking face to face.
Don’t Rush to Judgment. You might not understand why something is important to your partners, but the fact that it is important is all that matters. Before you can trust, you must respect each other and your differences without judgment.
Be Vulnerable. Be real with your partners and that means sharing things that you often keep hidden. The ultimate sign of trust is living your truth. By doing so, your partners will be more comfortable living theirs.
Be Forgiving. Trusting doesn’t mean mistakes won’t happen. When they do, be forgiving. Holding on to past transgressions will only erode the trust in the relationship. We should feel the ability to take risks knowing there will be some mistakes, and so should our partners, without it being a constant source of contention.
Work on Your Personal Growth. We are better people and better in our work relationships when we take the time to work on our personal growth. It’s important in any relationship for the people in it to grow as partners and as individuals. It’s a focus on our personal growth that keeps the relationship solid and the trust in each other growing.
Be Supportive. It is important in any relationship to be supportive of the other person. It is even more important to show that support when we are in a stage of building trust. If one person in the relationship doesn’t feel that they can take a risk, make mistakes or try new things without support, the relationship will falter. On the other hand, being supportive in good times and bad opens us up to living our truth knowing someone has our back.
Disagree in Private. A public forum is never a place to voice a disagreement, especially in front of employees. If what your partner is saying doesn’t sit well with you, discuss it in a private office or later. Often, disagreeing in front of other people can shame or humiliate the other person. This kind of behavior will damage your lines of communication and your trust factor. Sometimes, waiting a little while to have a tough conversation is better, as it allows you the benefit of formulating your thoughts in a respectful way to encourage an honest and open discussion.
One last thought. When you do disagree, make the resulting conversation about the work, client or strategy. Don’t make it personal. Once you make a disagreement personal, there may be no coming back to that relationship, as you have deeply eroded the respect and trust that person had in you and vice versa.