If you want to build trust, take care of these seven dangers which could hinder or even destroy your attempts to develop trust in a relationship. To get the most from this, we are assuming that you have already read Building Trust in a New Relationship and also the simple Trust Building Example.
- Trusting Too Soon. If you place a great deal more trust in someone than they would reasonably expect, they are highly likely to close up and trust you less. This is particularly so if they come from the “distrust until they have to” end of the spectrum. The bigger the gap, the bigger the discord. Would you trust someone who gushes forth their innermost thoughts within five minutes of meeting you? If you have a tendency to do this ― don’t! Do whatever you can to hold yourself back.
- Trusting Too Late. If the other person is displaying some trust in you, reciprocate. If you leave it too late, they may rethink their approach and it will be very difficult to overcome this change in their regard for you. If you have a tendency to do this, prepare early things you can share that will demonstrate trust without introducing excessive risk.
- Unhelpful Bias. “If you go looking for trouble, you’ll easily find it.” Starting with the expectation that the other side is trustworthy or untrustworthy, whether or not you even know them, is potentially a major problem. People can pick up on what you are really thinking through your body language. Attitudes smell. It becomes a vicious circle. Someone who detects that you distrust them will wonder why. They will perhaps think that you are not to be trusted. So, they’ll be more cautious rather than less. That will then “prove” to you that they cannot be trusted. Simple.
- Macro-Trust or Distrust. Many times I notice that when people talk about an individual and trust, they lump it all together ― “Oh, I wouldn’t trust him any further than I could throw him”. Yet that is as unrealistic as it is unhelpful. You might trust that someone to tell you the truth about something to do with their work, but not when it comes to their personal life, especially if that involves someone else at work! Similarly, you may trust someone to do what they say they’re going to do, but perhaps not to look after your children for the day. If you can break down the macro thoughts you have regarding an individual and trust, start by asking yourself what do you trust them with? What don’t you trust them with? In what circumstances can you trust that person, and with what?
- Forget the Context. Building on the last point, don’t forget the context in which someone is working. People become more sensitive and less trusting when their job is at risk. If their assessment of the risk is high, it is unreasonable to expect them to continue being open. Respect this. Work with this.
- Different Risk Assessments. On many occasions, I have heard people in coaching sessions saying things like, “I don’t understand why he’s not telling me that, it wouldn’t bother me to share that sort of information.” No, it may not bother you, but not everyone sees the world the way you do. Recognise that these differences are natural and seek better understanding.
- Fact, Hearsay and Distant Memories. In stakeholder mapping exercises, you need to assess the quality of the relationship, particularly regarding trust. Until challenged, this is often based on feelings rather than fact. They could well be right, but they could also be wrong. Having coached countless people on this area, I know that evidence is often in short supply. Reassessing your trust in another, based on evidence, could easily unlock the relationship.
If all of this sounds like a lot of work, yes, it is. Yet if the relationships you have around you are important, it will be time well spent ― particularly if these ideas help you to increase the level of trust more quickly than it would otherwise have risen. Make sure and also take a look at Building Trust Beyond the Obvious for some more advanced, yet simple ways to increase the level of trust in your relationships.
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.