How Do We Build Trust?

The popularity of Stephen M.R. Covey’s 2008 book, The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything, suggests that there’s an inherent recognition of how central trust is to pretty much everything else in our personal and professional lives.

At the most recent session of the Emerging Leaders Academy, PMC director Charles Jones spent time with the participants talking about what he foresees for the future of the public sector. His presentation focused on three issues: efficiency, adaptation, and trust.

It all goes better, Charles noted, when there is trust.

Stephen M.R. Covey agrees, offering this communication example at the beginning of his book: “In a high trust relationship, you can say the wrong thing and people will still get your meaning. In a low-trust relationship, you can be very measured, even precise, and they’ll still misinterpret you.”

So how do we build trust? The circular answer is, of course, by being trustworthy. But what does this look like? Here’s the list that Charles shared:

• Tell the truth. If you can’t, explain why. Small lies kill trust.
• Keep promises. Promise less and deliver more.
• Admit mistakes; and say you’re sorry
• Trust others. To be trusted, you must first trust others.
• Don’t micromanage, use rules to empower vs. distrust.
• Hire and promote integrity.
• Walk the talk.
• Respect the ideas of others.
• Say “no” clearly when you have to, but explain.

So easy, and yet so challenging. What would you add to this list? What examples do you have of how trust really matters or how the things on this list really do build trust?

One thought on “How Do We Build Trust?”

  1. Roger Z

    Interesting post! I read Stephen Covey’s book a couple years ago but have since forgotten the key lessons. Probably like most of us, I’m better at some of these eight things than others. This post dovetails nicely with Charles’ presentation.

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