Home Leadership 3 Reasons (and 3 Ways) to Build Trust in Your Professional Relationships

3 Reasons (and 3 Ways) to Build Trust in Your Professional Relationships

by Dennis & Michelle Reina

“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”

                                                            ~Ryunosuke Satoro, Japanese poet

Despite the recent surge in values-based, servant-oriented leadership, executives at the top are still pressured to put profits before people. Below, we offer three reasons why devotion to short-term earnings shouldn’t trump your commitment to building long-term, trust-based professional relationships.

(And as a bonus, we also give you three highly effective ways to begin building trust-based connections right now.)

#1. Trust-based relationships make you more effective. Trust is fragile, complex, and emotionally provocative. It takes time to build, yet can be broken in an instant. It’s important to everyone, yet means different things to different people. Both its presence and its absence stir deep emotion in all of us.

Learning the specific behaviors that build trustworthy relationships makes you stronger. It develops your intellect, intuition, and character.  You need to develop these aspects of yourself to be effective – both at work, and at home. As you begin to practice the specific behaviors that build trust (and root out the behaviors that break it), you’ll enjoy a greater awareness in your perceptions, a heightened understanding of the human spirit, and a stronger ability to connect with others on a deeper, more meaningful level.

#2. Trust-based relationships help you navigate change. 2014 is expected to be a banner year for mergers and acquisitions…yet 40-60% of them will collapse. Major internal change efforts are expected to increase, too…though with a 75% failure rate. Startups are off to a strong start…but in 10 years, 71% of them won’t exist. The lesson in all these sobering statistics? A constantly changing marketplace is the only thing you can count on in your career in organizational leadership.

Which is exactly why building your circle of trustworthy professional relationships is important. Enduring, trust-based connections will anchor you as you navigate an uncertain, changing landscape. They’ll provide you with an effective source of emotional support and thoughtful feedback – and they’ll be able to offer you rich opportunities should you need to search for a new position at some point in the future.

#3. Trust-based relationships are a competitive advantage. High-performing organizations are built on effective working relationships, and trust is the foundation of those relationships. As trust is tested and broken to an alarming degree across all industries, trust-based relationships offer your organization a competitive advantage. When you and your colleagues trust one another, you communicate more openly, collaborate more efficiently, and innovate more often. You’re freed up from the negative drain on your energy that distrust creates, and are more able (and more willing) to spot opportunities for growth and strategic advancement in the marketplace.

Moreover, when you take the first step to build trust in your relationships, you model the changes you want to see in your organization. Others will notice your notable behaviors, reciprocate, and begin to integrate these same trustworthy actions into their own connections across the company. Trust will beget trust, and you’ll be the beneficiary.

Bonus section: 3 ways to begin building trust-based connections right now:

#1. Extend trust. To get trust, you first have to give it. Think about the behaviors you may practice that show others you don’t trust them – or don’t trust them all the way. Do you leave them out of decisions that impact their work? Overlook their contributions or talents? Fail to pass along vital information? Aligning your actions with your intent to demonstrate your trust in others is the best way to inspire them to trust you in return.

#2. Practice compassion. To build trust, you need to be compassionate – both with others, and with yourself. It’s not easy to practice the behaviors that build trust day-in and day-out. There will be times when you and others trip up and break one another’s trust – usually unintentionally. Practicing compassion in these moments when trust is tested will show others that you recognize and embrace the reality that they – and you – are human. This compassion breeds trust in your relationships.

#3. Take the long view. You don’t want trust just for today. You want it for today, tomorrow, and beyond. The truth is, building trustworthy relationships takes time, effort, and commitment. There may come a time when you question your investment in the process. While trust building isn’t easy, the long-term payoffs will more than compensate you – and your organization – for your extra effort.


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