10 behaviours that create trust

Stephen M.R. Covey states that the most important ingredient within any relationship is trust. Not just in loving relationships but also in working relationships. In an age where change is occurring at ever-increasing speed, and commitment from employees and line managers is increasingly crucial, the value of trust is greater than ever. According to Covey, it is the most important and most underrated ingredient for business success.

In the article The speed of trust, I describe four key elements of trust: intention, integrity, capabilities and results. In this article I will go in more detail into 10 behaviours that help to create trust. I’ll be interested to know how far you are aware of these already and whether you are applying them in your own life.

1. Straight talk

Did you know that 6 out of 10 employees do not trust their line manager? This is often due to a lack of transparency – partly because the line managers will not admit to making mistakes. Or because they do not treat bad news within their organisation in an open manner. I have some good news: there is an alternative! By being honest, telling it like it is, getting to the point and using simple language.

2. Listen first

Have you ever asked yourself what would happen if, instead of broadcasting your own message, you were to ask questions and listen to the answers? If you replaced the monologue with a dialogue? If you honestly want to understand opinions and insights that deviate from your own? If you are capable of doing this, you will be operating at the third level of conversation: the dialogue.

3. Demonstrate respect

Demonstrating respect means that you accept the other as a worthwhile and valuable person. And you view that person separately from their function within the organisation. It doesn’t make any difference whether someone is a manager or a cleaner, everyone contributes to the success of an organisation. Demonstrating respect is often expressed in the small stuff; looking a person in the eye, saying thank you, holding the door open for someone, or addressing someone by their first name. And, sometimes it’s not happening that way. Check out this video to see a different perspective and the impact it can have.

4. Show loyalty

If someone has produced an outstanding achievement, do you acknowledge the good job they’ve done? Or do you take the credit yourself? I hope you answered with the first option! Be sincere, support your people and be proud of them. Make your support known to them and others. If you have to talk about people in a negative way, then do this in their presence.

5. Keep commitments

People often say that agreed is agreed, but to what extent is this carried out in practice? When it comes to simple issues it’s not normally a problem. It’s the more complex or politically sensitive matters that create difficulties. So try to be honest and transparent in these situations too. And if you know beforehand that you won’t be able to keep your promise, or if this becomes clear to you later on, just admit it.

6. Be willing to improve

Are you the kind of person who wants to learn all the time? Who dares to take risks, asks for feedback and learns from their mistakes? By adopting this attitude, you will not only continue learning throughout your life, but you are also an example to others to do the same. And this is a wonderful foundation for making your team consistently more effective.

7. Confront reality

We all experience difficult periods in our lives. The question is: how do you deal with them? Do you evade the issue and put off doing things you know you should, or do you tackle the difficult issues straight away? Don’t bury your head in the sand, but express what you’re having problems with, ask for help and start resolving the situation.

8. Clarify expectations

What do you expect from your employees? Make clearly defined agreements about the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. If you are expressing your expectations, make sure to check that the other party has understood what you are saying and that they are aware of how they can help you fulfill them. Try to be as concrete as possible. In other words, make your expectations, or goals, SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

9. Create transparency

Just be open and honest. Speak the truth and try not to appear better than you are. If for example you failed to do something, try not to think up a clever excuse to make you feel better. Just admit the real reason you didn’t keep to your agreement. And don’t forget: a half-truth is also a lie.

10. Righting wrongs

If you’ve made a mistake, then take responsibility for it. And try to find out how you can put it right. Don’t wait too long, but see what you can do and do it at once. And don’t forget to say ‘Sorry’, and mean it. This might be tricky, but if you’re able to push your ego to one side, it will pay dividends.

I wish you many relationships full of trust!

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