Are You Considered Trustworthy?

We often talk about how vital trust is but are we really trustworthy? Of course, we would all like to think of ourselves as moral, but it’s possible our actions don’t express that. It doesn’t mean we’re not good people; it just means that perhaps we must look closely at how we appear to others by rethinking some of our actions.
Credibility in the workplace is one of the most critical attributes. When you are considered trustworthy, it plays a role in how people treat you.
  • Your boss will be more open to listening to thoughts when they know your intentions are for the company's betterment. And this may give you more flexibility in how you desire to work with much less micromanagement.
  • Your colleagues will feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and working more closely as a team toward a common goal.
How Do I Demonstrate Trustworthiness?
First, let’s look at the definition of trust, as outlined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something


One in which confidence is placed

While keeping the definition in mind, let’s review some ways you can take an active approach to improve how others perceive us.

Be Honest

We’ve all spoken those little white lies, and it’s usually to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. But what happens when lying becomes part of our nature to make ourselves look better or avoid conflict? As we continue down that path, it will become apparent to others that you aren’t telling the truth, and they will find it difficult to separate fact from fiction. If you are in the practice of telling mistruths, it’s not too late to change opinions, but you need to do it now, no matter how uncomfortable.

To follow is an example where an employee was trying to shift the blame when he forgot to perform a task.

“Don’t blame me. I wasn’t aware that I was responsible for sending the agenda to the board meeting.”

The employee should have said something like, “I apologize, it completely slipped my mind, and I will do my best to ensure it does not happen again.” There may be some consequences to him forgetting (i.e., being reprimanded by his boss), but there will automatically be a higher level of trust because of his honesty.

If You Say You'll Do It, Do It

We make promises and commit to things all the time, whether at work, at home, or among friends. In certain situations, it’s easy to say yes to end a conversation or make yourself look like the “star.” However, don’t accept the responsibility if you have any clue that you cannot fulfill that commitment. Others rely on you, and when you make a promise you cannot keep, others may begin to exclude you from activities where it’s crucial to have reliable people. And when this happens at work, it may mean fewer growth opportunities.

Don't Make Excuses

One of the most attractive traits in a person is when they’re able to admit that they’re wrong. It happens, whether intentional or not. If you discover you made a mistake about something you said, “fess up” and say you’re mistaken. Many take the easy route and try to justify why they’re wrong, but that takes more effort than admitting you make a mistake. It demonstrates integrity, and you’ll get more respect. 

Be Clear in Your Expectations

Miscommunication is often the most problematic in the workplace. It’s either because the person relaying the information is an inadequate communicator or the person on the other end is a poor listener. 


If you’re the communicator, make sure what you’re dispatching is clear. And don’t make the mistake of dispatching only part of the information while the rest remains in your head. 


If you’re on the receiving end, take the time, listen, and allow the other person to talk. And, it’s your responsibility to answer questions if you’re unclear. If you truly listen, the communicator will answer many of your questions in the initial instructions. 

It's In the Small Actions

When you go the additional mile with absolutely no hidden agenda, you will begin to build trust both personally and professionally. And people will gravitate toward you if they feel you are genuinely interested in them. When individuals perceive that you’re helpful and honestly care, you form bonds and develop trust. Some examples of efforts that lead to more trust:

You’ve finished your immediate work and have some time on your hands. It’s easy to jump on social media or just wait for the work day to end. Instead, ask your boss, or co-worker, if you can assist with something else. And, IMPORTANT, if you help a co-worker, don’t run to your boss or others to tell them. The behind-the-scenes help goes much further as you’ll be known for being supportive without asking for anything in return.

Demonstrate interest in their lives. If they tell stories about their children or experiences outside the office, lean in and show that you are listening. When you remember names and check in regularly to see how everyone is doing, it will show you’ve heard what they’ve said and care about what’s important to them.
When you consider some of the above by honoring your commitments, taking the blame when appropriate, and demonstrating kindness, you’ll begin to build a natural trust that will reflect positively in all that you want to do.

Smile. Listen. Listen Some More.

How often have you engaged in a conversation and talked about a challenge you’re facing, and the person who is “listening” keeps jumping in with their suggested solution(s) before you have an opportunity to finish?
We’ve all been on both sides of the above scenario.
  • Conversations between friends
  • Meeting someone for the first time at a networking event
  • Being in a sales role in the discovery process with a potential customer or client
Being a good listener is probably one of the most important skills you can learn. When you open your ears and close your mouth, it gives you the ability to absorb much more information and BEFORE responding, look at the big picture.
That’s when you can use your expertise and experience to participate and provide helpful insight. And, if you genuinely don’t have the advice that would be helpful, don’t provide input that could lead the person in the wrong direction.
To follow are examples of how to engage in different situations.

Compassionate Without Being Controlling

We all want to help those close to us, but we’ve all been there; sometimes, they just want to vent. The worst thing you can do is immediately jump in when your friend is “letting it out.” Let it play out while still demonstrating that you’re there for them. If you listen, you’ll better understand their needs, and you’ll know when it’s time to offer help or continue to listen.

At a Networking Event

When you meet someone for the first time at a business function, you may be on edge, especially if you’re an introvert. You don’t know this person and are unsure how to strike up a conversation that could potentially lead to a potential customer, client, or future strategic alliance. Guess what? To make it easy, you don’t need to put much thought into how you want to open the conversation.

When you approach someone for the first time, introduce yourself by being brief. Give the person your name, the company you represent, and perhaps a SHORT description of your role. Then ask them questions about themselves. When they begin talking, it’s important to give them the time to respond. Don’t interject with your own stories or swing it back to talking about yourself. When people interrupt someone speaking, it demonstrates a lack of respect. There are other ways you can show engagement without talking:

  • Make eye contact and listen without fidgeting with your phone or looking around the room.
  • Ask follow-up questions that show you’ve heard what they have been saying. Don’t make the mistake of not really listening because you’re thinking about the next thing YOU want to say. If you take the time to listen, you’ll know what to say when there’s a break in speaking.

If you’re a salesperson trying to make a connection, even if you haven’t “done your spiel,” they will remember you for showing respect by making them feel important by listening. Listening to the challenge they may be facing in business will lead you to the solution you may be able to provide with your product or service.

How Will You Benefit From Being a Good Listener?
  • Will build stronger relationships
  • More focused on what's important
  • Ability to process information at a higher level

When you’re not trying to force a specific outcome, you are free to focus on the other person. And by keeping your head in the conversation without wandering, you’ll gain the mutual respect that will ultimately help you reach the desired result.

Whether you’re in a business setting or allowing someone close to confide in you, being a good listener takes practice. The better you get, the more opportunities will come your way.


Don’t Make Decisions Based on Assumptions

Have you ever made an assumption about someone you’ve just met only to find out that you were totally off base? And, to make it worse, you made a decision based on that assumption that proved detrimental to that person?
Most of us like to think we’re a pretty good judge of character but think back to someone who you categorized as, for example, “unfriendly.” They may be someone you’re considering for a potential team lead position in your organization, and you need to ensure the company culture continues to be relaxed yet productive.

Despite their strong resume and experience, you automatically rule them out of the opportunity as when you first met, the person was a bit standoffish and didn’t laugh out loud when you showed signs of humor. Once you felt that “negative” vibe, you turned off any chance to be receptive to hiring that person.

Now think back, was that person that unfriendly, or was your brain quick to react because of preconceived assumptions? There are many reasons your “Spidey sense” went off. And, highly possible, it has nothing to do with the actual individual.
Some examples of why you reached that conclusion:
  • Did they remind you of someone you have confirmed, through experience, as cold or unfriendly (i.e., same mannerisms, same look, or tone of voice)?
  • Were you a bit too casual in your conversation, perhaps, since they didn't know your style and were nervous about letting their guard down? Especially when they're trying very hard to come across as professional?
  • Is it possible that you have already decided who you want in that position? Maybe the one you prefer reminded you of a friend, family member, or just someone you had an excellent initial connection. That's all good, but did you dive deeper into that person's experience and skills to ensure they're not only an approachable people person but someone who can perform at a high level in the team lead role?
  • Could that person be having a bad day? Did they recently experience a personal loss? Was a flat tire the way they started the day? Or was someone unnecessarily rude when they stopped to get their morning coffee?
The examples above are generalizations but happen every day and impact your first impressions of a person. If you are not opening yourself up to others and constantly assuming you know how others think and feel, you will find that you not only stop listening, you’ll make others feel less than they should. And you’ll never get to know someone who would be an asset professionally or even a potential future friend.

When you meet someone, spend more time listening than talking.

If someone seems a little reserved, especially during a career interview, take a step back to reduce the stress level, and ask questions that help them open up and then inject something about yourself, so they don’t feel as if it’s a “trick” question.
To follow are some examples of questions to initiate a relaxed conversation.

“What do you like to do on the weekend? I spent Saturday at the dog park, and Fido loved it.”

“How long have you lived in the area? I’ve been here about ten years and don’t miss the cold weather up north.”

Of course, you can come up with what works naturally for you, as long as you don’t get too personal. The goal is to take the time, mainly if the potential employee’s resume checks off all those boxes, to get to know the “real” person and not someone you’re making up in your imagination.
If those red flags are popping up in your brain, don’t ignore them. Just make sure to take the time to confirm whether they’re correct. This way, you don’t miss out on someone great.