Of all the potential characteristics a person can have, trustworthiness ranks high on the list of most important. Unfortunately, building and maintaing trust can be a difficult task because it takes time to build and can literally be lost in seconds. The foundation of your brand and identity is based on your ability to be trusted. Your word is your currency
, without it your foundation will crumble. The more trust you have the more people you can potentially influence, however lose that trust and you will take a tremendous step backwards. Today I’d like to share with you some ways that I have built trust in my social life and in the online community.
Don’t Make Excuses
The quickest way to lose trust is to make excuses, because quite honestly excuses stink. While at the time they may appear to be valid, excuses have a tendency to continually show up. Have you ever heard of a person run out of excuses? A few months ago when I was writing Reality Switch
with Glen, I was given some very generous deadlines. However, due to my own lack of preparation and consistent procrastination I rarely met any of them. What did I do? I fed Glen a list of excuses. “I’m sick man.” “School has been kicking my ass lately.” “There was a party I couldn’t miss.”
At the time, those excuses seemed fairly valid to me but in reality I was only showing how trustworthy I really was. It wasn’t until Glen sent me an email that said, “You’re so unreliable” t
hat I really began to examine my ways. After that email I began to buckle down and finish what I started. Despite my other commitments I made sure that I never missed a deadline again, and was pleased with how the product turned out. Instead of making excuses for your mistakes take full responsibility for the outcome of your actions or (or lack of). No one expects you to be perfect, so if you don’t come through, just apologize and move on. Don’t make it worse by feeding weak excuses to make up for you being human. Odds are if you continually rely on excuses to get you out of trouble you’re not as trustworthy as you may think. The trusted ones are the people that take responsibility for their behavior no matter what. Excuses and trust don’t mix well.
I realize it’s impossible to never lie, but the idea here is to keep your lying to a minimum. Seriously, do you even realize how much you fib
? For an entire day take notice of how many ‘white lies’ you tell. I promise that you’ll be surprised. Even if you think you can get away with a lie most people can pick up on your insincerity. Lying also includes talking behind people’s backs and putting on a fake front. I’m not for radical honestly but I do believe you should be honest as often as you can. As you strive to be more honest in your every day activities you will soon find that being trustworthy becomes easier and your communication channels will open up accordingly. Being honest, especially in situations where you might hurt a loved one, does require courage but it’s certainly a better path than to mask the truth. Don’t waste a moment saying something you don’t truly believe, or that you know is not true. Those who are up front and don’t hide reality are in the long run much more respected and trusted than those who do.
When it comes to becoming a man or woman of your word, consistency matters. Imagine that you’re trying to draft a star athlete for your favorite athletic team. Would you want a player who was a hit or miss? Or would you want someone who was good day in and day out? I’d personally choose the second option. Don’t throw your trust away by being trustworthy one moment and then unreliable the next. As with anything, building consistency does take effort but your effort pays off in the end. Following through on your commitments every other time just won’t cut it. Consistently keep your word and your peers will slowly take notice. When you mess up it’s important not to be too hard on yourself. Realize that it’s OK to come up short. While I know letting someone down isn’t the greatest feeling in the world it’s bound to happen, so don’t get to worked up over it. Use your shortcomings as motivation to do better the next time around. Everyone falters every now and then, but ‘showing up’ day in and day out is very important in building trust. Strive to be as consistent as you can and you will be rewarded.
Make Commitments You Can Keep
Jumping from commitment to commitment and not keeping your word quickly damages your reputation. Only make a commitment if you’re confident you will be able to follow through. Obviously there will be rare cases in which something comes up, but more often than not, you should be able to do what you say you will. If you’re not sure that you will be able fulfill your obligations it’s important you voice your uncertainty. Never feel pressured to participate in an activity you know you don’t have the time or energy to do well. Don’t overcommit just for the sake of having more on your plate. It’s better to do a fantastic job at one thing than it is to half ass a handful of projects or obligations. By choosing to only participate in engagements you’re passionate about people will hold you in much higher regard. Lately, I’ve been cutting my own commitments to where I can focus on what really matters. Putting my personal blog on a hiatus was a difficult decision, but I knew that for me to deliver insane value at PluginID that’s what I needed to do.
There’s no shortcut to gaining someone’s trust. Consistency and sincerity go a long way in developing relationships with mutual respect. The more trustworthy you become the more opportunities you will have to show your worth. Don’t waste your time deceiving the world and misusing your power. Building trust is like lifting weights, the more you work at it the stronger it becomes. Are you as trustworthy as you want to be? The only person who can change that is you.
How do you build trust? How do you become a man or woman of your word? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.