Demanding Trust Doesn’t Work
I once had a boss demand that I trust her again. We can talk later about how I made the mistake of letting her know that I didn’t trust her (not a good career move, and no I didn’t TELL her that), but DEMANDING that someone trust you NEVER works. If you have the kind of relationship where you’re demanding anything, it is a trust-less relationship.
Trust is hard to define. I knew what she meant. She wanted me to go back to being willing to do whatever she needed/wanted without doubting her intent or integrity. She wanted our relationship to be based on mutual “confident expectation.” I would have liked that too, but she had done something (that I felt was dishonest) that so violated my confidence in her integrity, that I no longer gave her the benefit of the doubt. When I told her that I might be able to trust her again, but that it would take time, that was unsatisfactory to her. At least it was all out in the open. The consequences, however, were not pretty for either of us.
Since then, I’ve had the experience of people not trusting me. Some didn’t trust me because I outranked them. Some didn’t trust me because I was a different race, or age, or had a different nationality. Trust is not an automatic gift, it has to be earned. Not being trusted, however, is definitely not fun.
Think about the people who you have trusted. Have you trusted a boss? A friend? A stranger? Someone from a different generation? A pastor? A car dealer? A banker? A lawyer? See . . . all of these invoke different levels of trust reactions in you—and they are just labels. What made you trust the people who you trust? For most of us, it is consistent, persistent behaviors that we can predict and (for the most part) agree with. It is rare that we trust someone instantly, although it happens.
Excellent leaders are trusted. It is that trust that enables high performance teams. All leadership gurus talk about the necessity of trust for great leadership.
So . . . How Do You Get Them To Trust You?
Want people to trust you? Here are some important prerequisites:
- Be trustworthy—Well, duh. You’d be surprised, however, at how many managers bemoan the fact that no one trusts them while they are working secret agendas, regularly mislead co-workers, subordinates, and/or the community.
- Trust others—It’s amazing how well this works! The very experience of being trusted generates the willingness to trust in most of us. When you trust people to do something they haven’t done before, or to speak in front of a group, or to represent you in a meeting with your boss, that makes them more willing to trust you to be telling the truth, to takes risks, or to move forward without all the details.
- Be real. Let people know who you are. Let them understand your motivations. If you are trying to do something and the motivation isn’t clear—people make it up. If they trust you, they give you the benefit of the doubt. Until they trust you, you are better off making your motives clear. Even if they don’t like what you are doing, they learn to believe that there is nothing hidden. It’s more important that people understand than that they agree.
- Listen. When people believe that you are listening, that you are trying to understand, they begin to trust you. When you don’t listen, they stop trying to tell you. When that happens, there is no trust.
- Treat people with respect. When people feel respected, they feel whole. They feel more open to understanding and trusting.
- Be loyal. If people know that you are loyal to them, they are much more likely to be loyal to you. Loyalty is closely related to trust.
These are simple things. They are not easy to do. When we are caught up in the day to day tasks of work life, it is hard to remember to do them all. They are behaviors, though, with huge payoffs. People who trust you can deliver miracles sometimes, because they are willing to go above and beyond and take the chance that it will be worthwhile.