The Fantastic Life

Habits to Help You Build Trust


Remember in fifth grade when your teachers would have you do team-building exercises? One of the main activities was the trust fall, leaning back and praying your partner caught you. There was always one kid no one wanted to pair up with, because he or she thought it was funny to let their partner fall on their butts. 

Success in any career depends on the kind of trust we learnt in school. No one will want to follow or work with you if they can’t trust you.  

Below my comments is an article by Doug Marshall describing 13 behaviors of high-trust people.  I  have highlighted some items but here are a few key behaviors I try to model:

  •           Talk straight, without dancing around questions or being vague, be clear, honest and concise. I call it OBC-objective based conversations.
  •           Do what you say you’re going to do, without blaming other people for your failures. This is one of our team’s 4 rules (which I stole from The Strategic Coach).
  •           If you make a mistake, own it, take responsibility, and do what you can to make it right.
  •           Listen first before you assume anything, and try to understand what the other person wants. Alright, I said “try.” I’m still working on this one 🙂 

If you want more on this topic read below. If you want a deep dive, buy this book – The Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey.  Get it, read it, live it. 

Rule #7 from my book The Fantastic Life: Be Value Driven 
Trust and values go hand in hand. When you live life according to a set of values, people can trust that you will act according to those values. 


Do People Trust You? Learn the 13 Behaviors of High-Trust People

By: Doug Marshall
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Nov. 2, 2016


Years ago I was employed as a loan officer by a small bank.  I enjoyed working for my immediate boss but the more I got to know the bank president, the more concerned I became.  You see, this man didn’t mind cutting ethical corners in small ways and he demonstrated a complete lack of integrity towards his employees.  Have you ever worked for someone you didn’t trust?

About three years with the bank I realized that I couldn’t continue working there because I didn’t respect the bank president.  Fortunately I was able to find employment elsewhere as the economy was still going strong.

On the way out the door I remember saying to my fellow employees that when the next recession occurs this man won’t think twice about laying you off.  When the economy collapsed into the Great Recession my premonition proved true.  It wasn’t just that he laid people off.  In all fairness to the bank president, lots of people in commercial real estate lending were being laid off.  No it wasn’t what he did, it was how he did it.  Without getting into the specifics, his behavior exhibited a lack of empathy and respect for those who lost their jobs.


Fast forward to this summer.  While vacationing on the Oregon coast I read an insightful book on the topic of trust titled, The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything by Stephen M. R. Covey (his father was the author of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People).  As I was reading The Speed of Trust I couldn’t help thinking back about the bank president.  You see, he violated several of the principles outlined in the book for generating trust.

How about you?  Are you someone that people naturally trust?  Do you know the behaviors that high-trust people exhibit?  In this book, the author identifies 13 behaviors that builds trust between individuals.

Behavior #1: Talk Straight
Be honest.  Tell the truth.  Let people know where you stand.  Use simple language.  Call things what they are.  Demonstrate integrity.  Don’t manipulate people or distort facts.  Don’t spin the truth.  Don’t leave false impressions.

Behavior #2: Demonstrate Respect
Behave in ways that show fundamental respect for people.  Respect the dignity of every person and every role.  Treat everyone with respect, especially those who can’t do anything for you.  Behave in ways that demonstrate caring and concern.  Don’t fake caring.

Behavior #3: Create Transparency
Tell the truth in a way people can verify.  Get real and genuine.  Be open and authentic.  Err on the side of disclosure.  Operate on the premise of “What you see is what you get.”  Don’t have hidden agendas.  Don’t hide information.

Behavior #4: Right Wrongs
Make things right when you’re wrong.  Apologize quickly.  Make restitution where possible.  Demonstrate personal humility.  Don’t cover things up.  Don’t let pride get in the way of doing the right thing.

Behavior #5: Show Loyalty
Give credit to others for their part in bringing about favorable results. Speak about people as if they were present.  Represent others who aren’t there to speak for themselves.  Don’t bad-mouth others behind their backs.  Don’t disclose others’ private information.

Behavior #6: Deliver Results
Establish a track record of results.  Get the right things done.  Make things happen.  Accomplish what you’re hired to do.  Be on time and within budget.  Don’t overpromise and under deliver.  Don’t make excuses for not delivering.

Behavior #7: Get Better
Continuously improve.  Increase your capabilities.  Be a constant learner.  Develop feedback systems.  Act on the feedback you receive.  Thank people for feedback.  Don’t assume today’s knowledge and skills will be sufficient for tomorrow’s challenges.

Behavior #8: Confront Reality
Take issues head on, even the “undiscussables.”  Address the tough stuff directly.  Acknowledge the unsaid.  Don’t skirt the real issues.  Don’t bury your head in the sand.

Behavior #9: Clarify Expectations
Disclose and reveal expectations.  Discuss them.  Renegotiate them if needed.  Don’t violate expectations.  Don’t assume that expectations are clear and shared.

Behavior #10: Practice Accountability
Hold yourself accountable.  Hold others accountable.  Take responsibility for results.  Be clear on how you’ll communicate how you’re doing – and others are doing.  Don’t blame others or point fingers when things go wrong.

Behavior #11: Listen First
Listen before you speak.  Understand.  Diagnose.  Don’t assume you know what matters most to others.  Don’t presume you have all the answers – or all the questions.

Behavior #12: Keep Commitments
Say what you’re going to do, then do what you say you’re going to do.  Make commitments carefully and keep them.  Don’t break confidences.  Make keeping commitments the symbol of your honor.

Behavior #13: Extend Trust
Demonstrate a propensity to trust.  Extend trust abundantly to those who have earned your trust.  Extend trust conditionally to those who are earning your trust.  Don’t withhold trust because there is risk involved.

When people have confidence in you, in your integrity and in your abilities to perform as promised, trust is the end result.  And when potential clients trust you, your chances of getting their business improves dramatically.  On a personal level, high-trust individuals are more likely to be promoted, make more money and have more fulfilling relationships.  So the benefits of trust are huge both personally and professionally.

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