Trust is the cornerstone of any relationship. Without trust, a relationship will eventually dissolve. I tried hard to think of a genuine relationship that sustained, despite lack of trust. I couldn’t find one, at least not in my life. Imagine staying married to man (or woman) whom you don’t trust? Hard, isn’t it! Clients buy from people they trust. Our good friends, bosses, colleagues are the ones whom we trust. Our best teachers – albeit task masters – are the ones whom we implicitly trust. We go to doctors whom we trust to do their best for us.
Trust is fluid, it’s hard to earn and easy to lose. Following three things have helped me build trust and retain it in all my relationships.
- Keep your word irrespective of how small or big it is. If you say you will meet someone at 5 pm, meet the person at 5 pm. Trust is another way to say that you can rely on someone. So, if you cannot do something, don’t commit. Though this seems simple, it’s not always easy to follow. When I reflect back on times when I broke someone’s trust, I invariably realize that I hadn’t kept my word. It was small for me, probably something that I said loosely, but it wasn’t the same for the other person. From his perspective, if I couldn’t keep my word for something so small… how the hell should he trust me for anything bigger!
- Be authentic; say what you mean. And do what you say. Be honest and transparent; if you can’t do something, say so, rather than trying to evade it. If you have made an unfavourable decision, explain the rationale – albeit bitter – to the concerned person. I remember once I had to take a decision about sending one of my team members for an expensive and sought-after conference. Two of my team members were strong contenders, however one was due for role-rotation soon. I felt that he would not need those inputs in future role. So, I decided to send the other team member to the conference. And unfortunately, did not give honest feedback to the team member who was not sent for the conference. I know that I broke trust that day, and it impacted our relationship in the long run!
- Genuinely care for the well-being of the other person. It’s naïve to believe that we can demonstrate care without actually feeling it for the other person. People can see through it easily. I have come across people who are only interested in themselves, but try to ‘sweet talk’ to show that they care for others. The only people they are fooling are themselves!
These three principles have always stood in good stead for me in building trust. When I broke them, the results were not something I am proud of.