Trust in the Workplace: It Takes Both Humility and Vulnerability

May 21, 2015

We know trust when we see it.

It has a significant impact on every interaction. It’s the foundation of all of our relationships, work and personal.

Some research indicates a lack of trust in the workplace, especially during tough economic times, or when an organization is struggling. One poll by Maritz found:

  • 11 percent of employees strongly agreed their managers show consistency between their words and actions
  • 7 percent of employees strongly agreed they trust senior leaders to look out for their best interest.

Trust requires a healthy dose of vulnerability and humility — something all leaders can benefit from.

It’s often the small things we do, or the words we use, that strengthens or diminishes trust over time.

Subtle language that breeds mistrust

  • Oops. I’m late again.
  • Give me a second and let me just answer this email first.
  • Sorry it took me so long to respond.
  • I don’t know why they insist on always …”
  • It’s time to reorganize again.”
  • This isn’t that big of a change.”
  • It’s their fault, not ours.”
  • No issues. Everything is perfectly on track.”
  • They never get it right.”

Subtle language that breeds trust

  • These are the issues and this is how I will resolve them.”
  • I am interested in hearing your opinion.”
  • Next time, I’ll do ____ differently.”
  • You have my undivided attention.”
  • I can understand why this must be frustrating for you.”
  • “I am committed to starting and ending this meeting on-time.
  • What holes can you poke in my assumptions?
  • This is where I could use some advice.”

In his book, The Speed of Trust, author Stephen Covey identifies 13 behaviors that build and maintain trust in any situation:

  1. Talk straight;
  2. Demonstrate respect;
  3. Create transparency;
  4. Right wrongs;
  5. Show loyalty;
  6. Deliver results;
  7. Get better;
  8. Confront reality;
  9. Clarify expectation;
  10. Practice accountability;
  11. Listen first;
  12. Keep commitments;
  13. Extend trust.

Trust is difficult to build, yet easy to destroy. Pay attention to and shift your language — and watch the cycle of mistrust chip away.

This was originally published on PeopleResult’s Current blog.