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How To Build Trust

How To Build Trust

By Daniel Bobinski, M.Ed.

Trust is a unique factor in relationships. It often takes a long time to create trust, but it can be lost in mere seconds. To make matters worse, some people try to lubricate the gears of workplace productivity by using manipulation. Such approaches do little to foster trust in relationships. In fact, they often result in the exact opposite.

One question people sometimes ask is, “How can I develop trust?” The pithy answer is, “Be trustworthy,” but that answer still leaves people asking for specifics. Because trust is vital for enhancing workplace productivity, allow me to present what I believe to be a practical approach for developing trust.

Please know that the recommendations I’m about to present do not originate with me. I came upon them when studying the concept of emotional bank accounts, an analogy proposed by the late Dr. Stephen Covey, author of “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” The idea is that every time we meet someone, an emotional bank account is automatically created, and in that bank account, every word, every facial expression and every action we take is interpreted as either a deposit or a withdrawal.

The way to build trust is to work on making deposits. This parallels your relationship with your bank and your actual bank account. If you regularly make a lot of deposits and very few withdrawals, when you go to the bank to take out a loan, they see your track record of deposits and view you as trustworthy. Conversely, if you are regularly overdrawn, they won’t likely trust you to repay a loan.

In terms of your emotional bank accounts with others, here are some “deposits.” That is, actions that build trust.

  • Keep commitments. If you say you’ll be somewhere, be there. And on time.
  • Be kind and courteous. “Please” and “thank you” go a long way.
  • Seek first to understand. Before making your case, listen first to the opposing point of view.
  • Show personal integrity. Keep confidences.
  • Be open to feedback. Listen to suggestions for improvement without being defensive.
  • Attend to the little things. Being helpful in small things adds up to being a big thing.
  • Keep promises. If you say you’re going to do something, do it.
  • Clarify expectations. Be clear about when things are due and what the specific deliverables should be.
  • Be loyal to the absent. Speak about absent people as if they were in the same room with you.
  • Apologize sincerely if you make a withdrawal or otherwise offend someone. Sometimes we make withdrawals. If that happens, an apology soon after doesn’t restore all the trust lost, but it usually restores some.

In short, trust is an atmosphere we can create. It has to do with how people feel about their interactions with us. Granted, we have no direct control over how others feel, but our actions, attitudes and words act as deposits. And the more deposits we make without making withdrawals, the more trust we establish.

Daniel Bobinski, M.Ed. is a best-selling author and a popular speaker at conferences and retreats. For more than 30 years he’s been working with teams and individuals (1:1 coaching) to help them achieve excellence. He was also teaching Emotional Intelligence since before it was a thing. Reach him through his website,, or his office at 208-375-7606.



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