10 Ways To Build Trust

One thing we know for sure – high levels of trust are necessary for high levels of performance!   The research findings of Megan Tschannen-Moran clearly support this assertion.  Coach leaders who have internalized this premise are intentional about employing trust-building strategies on a daily basis.  Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Make relationships a priority. We are in the people business and relationships are everything.  Treat them as such.  Susan Scott reinforces this concept in her book, Fierce Conversations when she says, “The conversation is the relationship.”
  2. Show personal regard. Invest time in personally knowing others . . . their hopes, fears, and dreams, what they care deeply about.  It can be as simple as speaking to someone about her grandchildren, acknowledging the college from which someone has graduated, or asking about a sick child.  It might also include knowing that I love chocolate, giving me a pat on the back for a job well done, asking my opinion about something important to the school, or dropping me a note of appreciation for being a masterful educator.
  3. Make daily deposits. Relational trust is built on a day-to-day basis.  It’s the small things that make a BIG difference.  Find authentic ways to make deposits into my emotional bank account every day.
  4. Be a committed listener. Offer full presence to others.  Listen twice as much as you speak as suggested by the fact that we have two ears and one mouth.  It is a gift that people are hungry for.
  5. Keep your promises. When you say you will do something, do it without fail.  This demonstrates your trustworthiness and integrity which opens the door for even greater trust in the relationship.
  6. Use reflective feedback. The language we use is a signal of trust in the relationship.  Choosing to offer feedback that is reflective in nature, delivers the message AND enhances the relationship.  It clarifies, acknowledges the value potential, and promotes the thinking of the receiver as one considers additional possibilities and options for future action.
  7. Promote thinking rather than advice giving. David Rock’s book, Quiet Leadership, asserts that the best way to improve the performance of another is to improve his thinking.  Asking reflective questions over telling mediates the thinking of the other person, creating new hardwiring that substitutes short-term solutions for long-term capacity building.
  8. Articulate expectations and standards. Be clear about what you expect with regard to performance.  What are the drop dead essentials for working in your school or district?  In what ways do you communicate these essentials to those who are most affected?
  9. Trust others. As ironic as this may seem, increasing our own trust of others, can build trust.  Presume positive intent by believing that they “can do!”
  10. Celebrate successes. Say “thank you” on a regular basis to individuals as well as the collective group.  We all “crave” recognition and want to know that we are doing something worthwhile and doing it well.

While this may sound like good common sense, we know that common sense is often not common.  Putting these strategies into practice requires our constant intention, commitment, and focus. How will you intentionally build trust in your relationships with others on a daily basis?  What are your top ten ways to build trust?

By Karen Anderson, PCC
Coaching for Results Global

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Karen Anderson, PCC, M. Ed.

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4 thoughts on “10 Ways To Build Trust

  1. I think #9 Trust Others is often an overlooked way to build trust, and I am really glad you named it. “Trusting Others” means becoming vulnerable enough to depend on others. It looks like sharing responsibilties about who is “in charge”; showing confidence in the way others might organize work; letting go of wanting to OK all details about a project. In other words, the leader works in ways that models what is desired from others. I love it! You really “rang my bell” when you mentioned this one!

  2. Yes, and…
    Everyone’s life seems to include the person, usually older or in authority, who didn’t appear to meet these simple and challenging criteria. The follower, that is, less experienced person, will respond to authentic, predictable competence. There is security in predictability. A youngster who knows that misbehavior will result in an undesired situation, will feel safe in the relating to an adult who responds consistently to the misbehavior. Competence yields respect as the less experienced person learns that quality is the usual result of the older person’s actions. And when the less experienced one responds with his/her own predictable competence, “gruff” Grandpa, or “tough old” football coach become “teddy bear at heart”. Mutual trust, identified as #9, sets in.
    All of this is to explain that one must be “nice” or “sweet” in all interactions. Authenticity is essential to a meaningful relationship and when glued to predictable competence, the ten attributes and qualities will emerge to forge a meaningful, constructive relationship.

  3. All too often I have observed leaders who fail to explicitly articulate expectations and standards, because they saydoing so will undermine trust. Just the opposite is true. How can someone who keeps their expectations private be trusted. Leaders have to share standards and expectations in respectful ways so their followers understand the non-negotiables.

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