No matter what you do, you need the trust of other people. Once you have it, the rest will come on its own: their support, their following, their willingness to listen.
When you are trusted with a task, with knowledge, with an opportunity, it automatically places you ahead of others. As a leader, you must appear trustworthy, because otherwise, people will not follow you and will question everything you do. But how do you earn this trust?
1. Be authentic and truthful
It’s easy to be authentic in regards to good things. But trust comes when you speak the truth even when the situation is not as positive as you would like.
Being honest and telling the truth is something that will boost the confidence others have in you, because they will learn to expect you to tell it like it is, even if it’s not the best situation. You should let others know what’s happening and why, and, even if you don’t know something, share that rather than make false promises.
2. Be true to your word
The second way of building trust is by fulfilling your promises. If you set a deadline, do your best to fulfill it. If you promise you will do something, do it. If a situation comes up, make sure you let other people know as soon as you can and find ways of making it up to them.
Try to fulfill your promises and commitments every time or, at least, get back to the person and tell them honestly what happened and why you can’t do what you promised them.
3. Communicate what’s going on and why
Trust can emerge from transparency. You might not always be able to share everything that’s going on, but you can work to make sure other people are aware of the process. If you know not just a deadline but the reason for a deadline, share it.
Transparency ensures that people understand not only what is happening, but why it’s happening and can understand each decision better. A lack of transparency undermines trust, as people will come up with their own explanations when they don’t understand the situation, and usually these explanations will be negative.
4. Acknowledge your flaws
It can be tempting to try and present yourself as ideal, a person who never makes mistakes. However, showing vulnerability and allowing others to see your flaws and mistakes can create more trust. You won’t always do things perfectly, that’s just a fact of life.
But if you acknowledge that you made a mistake or struggle with a situation and take steps to address it, others will recognize this. We are often afraid of showing ourselves to be less than perfect, but other people usually take it in stride and will view us even more favorably.
5. Listen to others
A trustworthy person does not assume they know better than anyone. They are open to learning and listening what others have to say. Gaining the trust of others means allowing them to contribute and being open to what they have to say.
When you show that you are willing to take ideas and that you genuinely engage with them, even if you won’t accept everything that’s said, it builds a stronger level of trust. Make sure you listen actively and that you take your time to understand what is being offered.
6. Stay flexible
A person who is rigid and refuses to change their ideas, views, opinions, or ways of doing things might be seen as less trustworthy. They are not willing to adapt to new situations or to revise their ideas. Show that you are flexible when the circumstances require it and that you are open to change. Some people feel that following a certain tradition or set of ideas makes them more reliable, but that usually limits their opportunities.
A workplace leader that refuses to even consider work from home might seem unreasonable, for example. Flexibility doesn’t mean changing everything, however, just working to adapt to new situations and making it clear that you are willing to improve and change if it makes the situation better.
7. Be natural, don’t overdo it
When we want other people to trust us, we might be a bit too eager. That can lead to the opposite result and make others suspicious. Don’t try too hard – do things that come naturally to you, be honest and genuine, communicate with others, and trust will happen as a result.