The Destroyers of Trust

Trust: confidence in someone or something, believability; the opposite of suspicion and distrust.

Consider the words of Gandhi about the topic of trust, “The moment there is suspicion about a person’s motives, everything he does becomes tainted.”

The day-to-day experiences people have with you go a long way towards establishing your reputation as someone who can (or cannot) be trusted. The degree to which people trust you will cause your career to flourish – or languish.

As you read this article, chances are there people in your life making important decisions that affect you and your career, and those decisions are usually based on how they feel about your trustworthiness:

  • Is {your name} the right person for the role I need to fill?
  • Can I trust {your name} with the information I’d like to share?
  • If I give this assignment to {your name}, can you be trusted to handle it well?
  • Do I trust {your name} to do a good job working with this client or team?

With so much riding on trust, the New Year is a good time to self-assess for these five “Trust Destroyers” and what can be to build trust instead:

Trust Destroyer #1: Not Doing What You Said You Would Do. “I’ll take care of this today,” and you don’t (after all, what’s one more day?). “I’ll be there at 8:30,” and you aren’t (so I was 5 minutes late…big deal). When you are characterized by NOT doing what you said you would do, why should anyone trust you – ever? Trust Builder: Instead, write down each commitment as you make it, and then DO IT like you said you would do. You control what it is that you promise, so don’t promise anything you won’t deliver. Better to under-promise and over-deliver, than promise what doesn’t happen.

Trust Destroyer #2: Gossip. Gossip is the idle talk or rumors about the private affairs of others, usually told to one person at a time. So if you are gossiping about Sally to me, what stops you from gossiping about me to Sally? And if you gossip at all, why would I trust you to keep anything in confidence? Trust Builder: Stop discussing private affairs with others. If it is not positive and helpful to others, it is better left unsaid. Even Solomon observed, “Even a fool is thought to wise when he remains silent.”

Trust Destroyer #3: Avoiding Responsibility. We all make mistakes, mishandle situations, or fall short of expectations. What is remembered long after our mistake, mishandled expectation, or shortfall in expectation is HOW we responded. Did we ignore it, or make excuses, or blame it on someone/something else? Trust Builder: Admit your mistakes, apologize to others who were impacted, and tell theme what you will do to resolve the situation or expectation. Then follow-up to make sure it happens as you said it would.

Trust Destroyer #4: Don’t Make Time to Listen. When you become too busy to listen to people, you send a message of disrespect and as a consequence, a loss of trust. The important people in your career (supervisors, customers, staff, peers, shareholders, and stakeholders) all have a choice of who to trust – and it won’t be the person who has no time to listen to them. Trust Builder: Set aside time to listen to people WITHOUT multitasking. Phones off and take notes so you can follow-up. Maintain a pleasant level of eye contact, open body language, and ask questions.

Trust Destroyer #5: Be Unclear in Your Expectations. People cannot perform their best when they are unclear about what is expected. They will lose trust in leadership when leadership is unclear about what it wants to occur. When leadership keeps important details unsaid, or seems unwilling to share all the details of an important project. Trust Builder: Explain outcomes in very specific detail: what is expected, when it is expected, why it is important to meet the expectation, how results will be measured, what resources are available, and how you will follow-up.

Boyer Management Group works with universities, employers and job seekers alike to help them become more successful. For employers, we offer world-class talent acquisition and onboarding tools and programs. For job seekers and universities, we offer the world’s first assessment to measure an individual’s knowledge and awareness of current and emerging career search best practices, along with the educational programs to support higher ed curriculum, career coaches and individual job seekers. To find out more, please visit us at, email us at, or call us at 215-942-0982.


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