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Building Trust

Critical Ingredients for Building and Maintaining Trust
Various Perspectives on Building Trust

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Critical Ingredients for Building and Maintaining Trust

© Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD

There are numerous ingredients that must be present for there to be strong and sustained trust in a relationship and in the workplace, for example, do what you say you are going to do, always be clear and consistent in your assignments and say what you mean. Different people together could probably generate one long list. However, here are five of the most important ingredients.


Authenticity has become a very popular concept lately, especially as we hear -- and try to follow -- a myriad of suggestions about how we "should be" in our relationships and our work. Too many of us try to be something that we aren't and so we inadvertently become inauthentic. People can sense when someone is not being true to themselves or others. The concept of authenticity has become so idealized and romanticized that it appears that a truly authentic person would almost be that perfect person with no faults at all. Instead, perhaps authenticity is best described as being honest with ourselves and others. See Authenticity.


Empathy is the ability to relate to, and understand, others and sometimes to even feel what they feel -- to "walk in their shoes." Empathy is not the same as sympathy, which is feeling pity or sorrow for another in discomfort. You can empathize with someone without feeling sympathy for them. People trust other people when they understand each other. Skills in empathy are the basis for accurate and ongoing understanding between people. See Empathy.


It's not enough to be real and have the ability to fully relate to others. You also have to hear them, to really grasp and understand what others are trying to convey to you. Without truly listening to others, you will not have their trust. As much as we value skills in listening, too many of us don't have those skills -- we listen more to ourselves than to others. There are some basic guidelines that, if followed, can make a huge positive impact on your listening skills. See Listening.

Respectful Feedback

Ongoing, successful communication is the foundation for building trust. That communication should go beyond sharing information about the weather. It should include our opinions and suggestions about the opinions and suggestions of others. That feedback can be shared in very respectful ways that sustain the respect and trust between participants. Similar to skills in listening, several guidelines, if followed, can greatly enhance skills in sharing feedback. See Feedback.


Ethical behavior is always striving to do what's morally right for yourself and others, particularly when times are tough and we're challenged to cut corners to get things done quickly and cheaply. When people damage the trust between them, it's usually because one or more of them have done something hurtful -- they've done something that they would not want done to themselves. Many would argue that a cornerstone of being ethical is the golden rule -- to do onto others as you would have them do onto you. See Ethics.

Various Perspectives on Building Trust

How To Build Trust
Keeping an Open Line of Communications with Your Employees
Trust Building
How to Build Trust
How to Build Trust at Work
Bridging We-They Gaps
Bringing Values to Life

For the Category of Interpersonal Skills:

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