The saying goes: “Trust comes on foot, but leaves on horseback”. In other words, trust takes a long time to build and can be destroyed in a minute! Trust is a soft skill, but it can be brutally hard when it is not there. Trust is agile in the sense that we can work on our trustworthiness but we can not force someone to trust us. 

Trust has an impact on speed and cost as well. In “The speed of Trust” * Stephen Covey tells us that when trust is high, speed goes up, and costs go down. When trust is low, speed goes down, and costs go up.

Trust is an essential element for building and maintaining relationships. Collaboration will always be hard, if not impossible, without trust. Can we build relationships without trust? I doubt it! Relationships without trust put a high emphasis on control and too much control slows things down even more.

Can we systematise trust? As agile as trust is, there is no system that tells us what the right steps are for the other person to trust us. We can not demand trust! Our behaviour determines our trustworthiness and that hopefully leads to the other person trusting us.

Can trust be conditional? It doesn’t work that way. In trusting relationships, you cannot put conditions on you only showing up when the other person does something first. Conditions relate to control and not to trust. Conditional trust diminishes trust; speed goes down and costs go up.

So What Can You Do to Encourage Trust?

Our behaviour defines our trustworthiness. Transparency, clarity and communication are essential elements of trustworthy behaviour. Being transparent about your intentions helps to avoid guesswork and hidden agendas. It goes hand in hand with clarity, although clarity also has an active component to it by clearly clarifying your expectations. Communication is the cornerstone of successful relationships and should never be taken for granted. People change, circumstances change and only by clear, transparent and frequent communication, combined with active listening, relationships are able to stay on a trustworthy, respectful track.

I realise that I’m only scratching the surface of this important topic of building and maintaining trust in today’s column. On my website there is a special page dedicated to Trust in Alliances and there is  undoubtedly more to the topic. What tips or experiences do you have for enhancing trust in relationships? 

In our Alliance Masterclass Anoop Nathwani and I dive deeper into, amongst others, the topics of trust and communication for successful alliances & partnerships. Click here to learn more …