Obvious answer – of course you are! You know that. But, do they?
It is far easier that you may realise for others to distrust you. You don’t need to do anything wrong to see their level of trust in you dip. Indeed, it may be nothing whatsoever to do with you. However, the negative impact on your work will be big.
Below I am going to share thirteen reasons why trust may be declining around you – then you can take steps to arrest any decline, or make sure it doesn’t start to drop in the first place.
Before I do that…
What is Trust?
“The degree to which someone can predict how you will respond in certain situation.”
For instance: giving them an honest answer to a straight question; remaining calm when disputes arise; supporting their work when the need arises.
In practice, this usually means that they believe you will respond in a favourable way. Defining trust this way can also include things like: betraying their confidences; escalating issues too early; being rude and obnoxious. I’m sure you are not like these negative examples, but I bet you know people who are.
The point is, if you know how someone is going to react in a certain situation, positively or negatively, you trust them in that respect. And, you can plan your own actions accordingly.
For example, if you know someone is going to fly off the handle you can brush up on your emotional management skills and learn how to bring them back down to a more adult to adult exchange.
Or, if you are confident they are going to move heaven and earth to help you out, you can focus your preparation on the plans you want them to implement rather than how to persuade them.
The more trust you are awarded from others, the better off you will be (you can read more about this topic here: Trust and Integrity Made Simple).
Right, so why can it quickly evaporate?
Thirteen Reasons Why People Might Not Trust You
Thinking about it, as you are running through these, reflect on a work relationship that you’d like to improve. See which ones might apply and then decide to take some action.
Here are the reasons, in no particular order:
- They think you are up to no good. Or rather, you are working against their interests or agenda and if you succeed, they will be worse off.
- Your boss is up to no good, or they think so. You may be innocent but getting caught in the middle is still a tricky situation.
- You never talk about the downsides. People who always shout about the positive make people wary – too good to be true?
- You keep changing your mind. If so, on what basis can they rely on you? Consistency is paramount when it comes to being trusted.
- You keep changing your arguments. Sure, you want to influence them, but when you keep shifting the logic people will start to wonder why. Especially if you’re also sounding desperate.
- You don’t do what you say you’re going to do! Nobody is whiter that white. Even if you can’t do something on time, make sure you manage expectations. Under-promise and over-perform comes to mind – providing you don’t play it as a dirty trick.
- You don’t give straight answers to straight questions. Politically crafted answers are obvious to anyone with a little experience of life at work, so watch out as you try to dodge difficult topics.
- Your allegiances may have shifted. Structures and reporting lines are changing all the time. Now you report elsewhere, can they still trust you? At the very least they will become a little more cautious for a while – wouldn’t you?
- You challenge them too much. Challenge is good, but it can be overdone. Then they will start to wonder if you have their best interests at heart after all.
- They believe that you don’t understand their position. Even if you do, you need to make sure they know that you do. If someone doesn’t understand you, would you be confident that they will always do their best for you?
- They notice you being too friendly with their sworn enemy. That you are simply trying to broker a peace deal will be lost in the suspicion that you have enlisted on their opponent’s side.
- You don’t show any emotion. Cool and calm you may be, and this is good – to a point. Beyond that, people will become uneasy. To believe you, they usually need to see emotional and physical evidence to corroborate your words.
- You really are up to no good! By that I mean, you are working against their interests. No if’s, no but’s, you are out to get them. Why should they trust you?
Exhaustive list? No. What have I missed?
The key point here is that distrust in many situations is perfectly reasonable. As a professional going about your work, make sure to keep the real possibility in mind. Instead of ducking and diving, hit it straight on – get it out on the table and do something about it.
In this way, you are far more likely to maintain and grow ever greater levels of trust, even when you don’t agree with others. Mutual respect among professionals working on behalf of the organisation is a great thing to aim for.
Colin Gautrey is an author, coach, and trainer who specialises in the practical use of power and influence in large organisations. He has 25 years’ experience helping middle/senior professionals to survive, thrive and enjoy their work.
If you are ready to develop your influencing capability, become a member of Breakthrough Influence. If you are serious about becoming highly influential, fast, engage with Colin and he will help you get there in the most effective way possible.
Other articles by Colin:
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