Building Trust: It’s Not About Me

By Dave Thompson

Trust is a personal trait you carry with you from job to job, hard to gain, easy to lose. You gain it—or lose it—depending on your attitude toward your job, which dictates your actions on the job.

When I start work each morning, I’m starting with one of three attitudes:

  1. Team player. I’m trying to achieve the mission; I’m living the values, working collaboratively and professionally. I not only realize but respect that more can be achieved together than separately. It’s not about me; it’s about us.
  2. Solo player. It’s definitely about me today; there’s no room for anyone else. 
  3. Nonplayer. Not involved, not today. Today I’m a nonvoter. Please don’t ask me to engage. 

My goal is to start each day with my team player attitude. Funny thing: When I meet the goal today, the easier it is to meet it tomorrow.

Your actions, based on your attitude, build trust

Being a team player enhances your reputation. It reinforces how others perceive you positively. And it strengthens their trust in you. Some points to consider:

  • We constantly look to all those around us for validation and examples of how to respond. Therefore, people around you are looking to you to set the example. Does your action demonstrate they can trust you?
  • Listen carefully before speaking—let them finish. Listening lets empathy blossom: It’s not about me. The opposite of listening is waiting to speak, which begets only impatience: It IS about me.
  • When you speak, always speak the truth; try to say it positively; and make it inspirational, aspirational, or immediately useful. Your great ideas will never take flight until somebody else shares them. It’s about us.
    • Lies destroy trust; half-truths will be seen as lies when the whole truth is finally revealed, which it always is.
    • If your criticism or complaints should be directed to HR, do so. That’s not about me; it’s about the dignity and respect you deserve in all aspects of your life. But if you’re just letting off steam, consider the example you’re setting. Keep your passion in perspective.
  • You’re human. You’re imperfect and vulnerable. These are your strengths, not your weaknesses; your blessings, not your burdens. Admitting your mistakes or accepting other people’s ideas show you value others, their ideas, and their concerns. You’re demonstrating that you trust them.
  • Be empathetic and compassionate to those around you. They’re human, too. They’re equally vulnerable. Be grateful when they share that gift.

Your actions build trust up, down and across all managerial levels of your organization. If you’re trusted, people at all levels will turn to you. All because of your attitude: It’s not about me.

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