How Can You Restore Trust In Workplace?

by Jyothi Dass

International author, speaker and CEO Brian Tracy states, “The glue that holds all relationships together—including the relationship between the leader and the led is trust, and trust is based on integrity.”

Trust forms the bedrock of all our relations and yet, it is such an intangible concept that it is impossible to clearly define what it means to ‘trust’. As we reflect on its subjectivity, we realize that trust can mean many different things to each of us. A behavior which builds or breaks trust for one person will be entirely at odds with the behavior which builds or breaks trust for another. It is based on this idea where over two decades of research conducted by Michelle and Dennis Reina makes it easier for us to understand the concept of trust in the workplace.

According to Reina’s research, there are 16 key behaviors which are instrumental in building trust in the workplace. When these behaviors are put into practice, you can build high-trust relationships and contribute to a high-trust culture in organizations and teams. Trust is broken incrementally through small, unintentional (in most cases) actions/incidents on a day to day basis.  It is rarely, if ever, that we deliberately set out to break one another’s trust—yet, we invariably end up doing so by some cause or other. Usually, most people don’t bring up the smaller actions/incidents, but when built up over a period of time, these erosive occurrences can result in a larger, more significant breach of trust.

Here are some key points to remember to build/ rebuild trust:

1. The Role YOU play

A key factor which all of us seem to forget in our expectations of trust is that it has to start with ourselves. To be trusted, we must extend trust first! However, when the going is tough or when relationships are under stress, we usually expect the other party to make the first move. What if we were to move away from that mindset? And instead, take the initiative to restore trust and have more authentic interactions in the workplace by giving our colleagues the benefit of the doubt?

2. A Start to Restoring Trust

Trust can be rebuilt by increasing our awareness of our colleagues’ expectations of us—this will help us avoid the small daily pitfalls which eventually lead to the greater consequential breach of trust. State your own expectations clearly and set working relationship expectations of others too. When you have a clear well-communicated start, the chances of expectations being broken are reduced considerably.

3. Aim for Transparency

It is extremely important to have open lines of communication and initiate transparent purposeful conversations when trust is broken in order “to bury the hatchet” and ensure that the situation doesn’t go from bad to worse. Be honest about how you feel, and discuss the matter with language that doesn’t seek to harm or accuse.  Reacting emotionally to an incident by hurting the other person’s sentiments in response will not help you restore the relationship. Communication becomes easier when your intent is genuine. It is advisable that both parties assume positive intent and avoid questioning or looking for ulterior motives.

4. Trust Your Team

Micromanaging and excluding people from decision-making is yet another way in which trust is broken. Give your colleagues/team members latitude to work in their chosen individual manner and step in only when truly necessary. At the same time, it is important that you demonstrate your support so they can work in the trusting knowledge that you will be there for them if needed. Providing people with support and freedom to grow, as well as showcasing their skills will ensure that you get the best out of your existing talent pool.

It is only when YOU choose to work on trust that it will be built—it cannot be built/rebuilt by anyone else. Trust begins with ourselves, and we owe it to our colleagues to each take responsibility for making our relationships and the workplace a trusting and productive environment.


Jyothi Dass


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