Think about who you trust. Your parents? Your spouse? A handful of friends?
What makes you trust those people?
It’s probably a lot of things, like they kept your secrets, helped you out on something important or maybe they’re a great listener. All these things make you know — they’re on your side.
Having people you trust makes you confident and happier in your personal life. Trust has huge benefits at work, too.
Paul Zak, a neuroeconomist, reported people at high-trust companies are 74% less stressed, 106% more energized at work, 50% more productive and 40% less burned out when compared with people at low-trust companies. Take that in, those numbers are huge.
No matter where someone is in the organizational hierarchy, people are people, and what makes us trust someone is pretty much the same.
Here are a few things you can do to establish yourself as trustworthy:
Keep Your Word
This one seems obvious, but it can be frighteningly rare these days. If you say you’re going to keep something confidential, don’t blab. If you say you will take care of something, do it.
Trust is built on fulfilled promises. If you’re letting people down on a regular basis, they won’t trust you.
Use Intentional Body Language
When you’re speaking to someone, making eye contact and leaning into the conversation sends a signal to the brain that you are interested, and not threatening. If your eyes always are on your phone or looking at the floor, you will not appear as trustworthy.
This is especially important (and more challenging) in virtual environments, where the default is to look at ourselves or look at what’s being presented on the screen.
Try, even if it’s just for the first 30 seconds, to look directly into the camera. Even though it might feel to you like you’re staring at nothing, the person on the other end of the call will experience focused eye contact.
Be both Competent and Warm
This idea comes from a book called, “Friend and Foe,” by Doctors Maurice Schweitzer and Adam Galinsky.
They write that the first component in getting someone to trust you at work is to be competent (good at your job). The second component is to be warm.
The authors describe being warm as being human and admitting vulnerability. The tricky balance is to not demonstrate vulnerability that undermines your competence.
For example, if you’re an engineer, don’t show your vulnerability in your math skills. Instead, be open about your fear of public speaking, or something else that makes you a little bit more human.
Trust others (Until they give you a reason not to)
If you’re an ambitious person, it can be tempting to want to control everything, constantly follow up and micromanage. If you want someone to trust you, show that you trust them.
In a time of crisis or change, our default is self-preservation. The risk-avoider in us does not like to put our future in the hands of another. But humans are hardwired social creatures. We require the cooperation of others to survive (sorry, Lizard brain).
Building a high-trust organization doesn’t sentence you to trust falls or other awkward teambuilding exercises.
Trust happens in the cadence of daily business. It’s built on consistently fulfilled promises, intentional conversations, and the vulnerability required to put your faith in someone else.