We throw the word “trust” around a lot, but most of us don’t really have a solid grasp on what “trust” means. We tend to think that trusting someone means we can count on them, or that they are honest. But it actually goes farther than that. A good definition is: a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.
So trust doesn’t just refer to honesty or being counted on. When we trust someone, we feel that they are reliable and will come through when needed. We also believe we can accept their word, that they are honest with us. And we also recognize their strength of character. Think about it for a moment. Do you trust a weak person, or a dishonest person, or an unreliable person, or an incompetent person? Of course not!
Do people trust you?
Do your customers/clients feel that way about you? What about your employees? Do they feel they can trust you?
If you want your customers and employees to trust you, you must exhibit the behaviors that instill trust. You have to demonstrate that you can be relied upon.
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Here are eight things you can do to give people reasons to trust you.
If you instill these in your corporate culture, your customers will trust not just you, but your company as well.
1. Be competent!
If you know what you are doing and show people that you have a firm grasp on your job, your technology, or your product, then you will be trusted. Competency is one of the key elements to obtaining trust. If people are confident in your abilities, you will be more likely to be trusted. Competent people are always trusted more than incompetent people.
2. Do what you say.
When you make a commitment, ensure that you keep it. Nothing weakens trust more than someone making a commitment (or promise) and then not keeping it. Once you do this, trying to regain trust is a hard thing to do.
3. Tell the truth.
No one wants to be lied to. And if you have a habit of not telling the truth, even when it’s bad news, you won’t be trusted for long. Once you get caught in a lie, nothing you say can ever be believed again. That’s a deep hole to dig yourself out of. This includes half-truths and omissions.
4. Keep secrets.
If someone tells you something in confidence, you must keep it to yourself. Once you let a secret out, your reputation is ruined. Who would dare tell you something in confidence after that? People who can keep secrets are respected.
5. Be open and candid.
When you show people that you can be open and candid with them, even about things that aren’t comfortable talking about, your stature goes way up.
6. Be fair and don’t engage in double standards.
When you treat different people differently, you will be looked at as having favorites (employees, customers, associates, etc.) or having a double standard, i.e., holding one person or group to a standard that you allow others to slide on.
7. Demonstrate consistent behavior.
When you are inconsistent in how you treat people or how you show your moral behavior, people will feel that they can’t rely on you. They never know which one of you is showing up.
8. If you do have to lie, admit it!
Sometimes we have to lie, maybe to keep someone else’s secret, or to withhold trade secrets, or to keep a competitor from learning about a new product. In any case, once the word is out, let people know that you lied, that it was necessary, and that this is not the way you would normally behave.
If you can build these eight rules into the way you do business, both with clients and employees, you can create a strong reputation of being trustworthy (simply put, being worthy of their trust). And when you incorporate these into your corporate culture, your company will develop a reputation for reliability, competence, and a strong moral character. That’s not a bad reputation to have!