5 Ways to Build Trust

Team of climbers on the summit.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.” Relational trust is built on a day-to-day basis. The small things make a BIG difference. Find authentic ways to make daily deposits into others’ emotional bank accounts.
  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, recognizing the contribution I have made, asking my opinion about something important to the school, or dropping me a note of appreciation for being a masterful educator.
  3. 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. Find ways to be more “interested” than to be “interesting”. People are hungry for this kind of listening.
  4. Use reflective feedback. The language we use is a signal of trust in the relationship. It demonstrates our belief in others by clarifying, recognizing the benefit or value of who a person is and what he/she has accomplished while provoking thinking for consideration of future possibilities.
  5. 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 advances the thinking of the other person, creating new hardwiring that substitutes short-term solutions for long-term capacity building.

While this may sound like good common sense, we know that common sense is often not common. Ironically, trust begets trust – when we give it away, it returns to us tenfold. Presuming positive intent by believing that others “can do!” has a huge payoff. Putting these strategies into practice requires our constant intention, commitment, and focus.

How are you intentionally building trust in your relationships with others on a daily basis? What are YOUR top five ways to build trust?

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Karen Anderson, PCC, M. Ed.

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