How to Trust Just Right — in Business and Relationships

a consultant with young coupleTrust depends on more than interpersonal dynamics: it’s also an intra-personal event. Whether we trust others or not actually has less to do with others than it does with our ability to respond to what others do. This is true not just sometimes but every time we trust — in business or in our private life. Trust is more about what’s happening inside of us than what is going on between us and another person. To take this a step further: how much we trust others really is a reflection of how much we trust ourselves.

Every one of us is usually very clear about our values and beliefs. Refusing to empower other people is often an example of our fear to respond to what other people might do. Instead of thinking that you are “right”, think of your values and beliefs as choices that work for you. By thinking about it in this way, you are not easily threatened when people exhibit different values and you chose to use whatever happens as a means to move things forward.

How You Build Trust — in Business and in Relationships

Team members must have confidence in one another if the team is to be successful. Making and keeping small agreements is how to begin building trust, because if you don’t keep small agreements, you won’t get the chance to make large agreements.

Two rules about agreements:

1. Never make an agreement you don’t fully intend to keep (no matter how small).

2. Clean up all broken agreements at the first opportunity.

This obviously does not just apply to the business world but also can be positively applied to personal relationships with family members and friends.

Successful Leaders Know to Trust Just Right

Since we can not change other people, we need to look at ourselves if we want to be more trusting. There are only two ways trust goes wrong: we can trust too much or too little.

In environments where there is a premium placed on always being “right,” trusting too much and being burned is often seen as a mistake — and making mistakes is seen as being “wrong.” By trusting too little, we lose opportunities and run the risk of less-than-optimal team performance.

How can we learn to trust just right then, when harsh feedback and consequences are the result of trusting too much and loss of productivity the result of trusting too little? To optimize the benefits of trusting others, you actually have to trust a little too much because only then do you facilitate the possibility of being rewarded for your trust.

How we decide to view what is being thrown at us, at work or in our private life, is the key for our success. I encourage you to rethink how you approach trust and to expand your comfort zone and trust just a little more than you usually do. You’ll be rewarded for your boldness with more satisfying business and personal relationships.

Learning how to trust just right is only one of many principles Christopher Avery teaches in his book Teamwork Is An Individual Skill. He has taught hundreds of leaders to operate their business, and lives, more successfully. Find additional resources to master leadership or build a responsible team (or family) at

Posted in Collaboration, Leadership, Responsibility, Teamwork on 09/20/2010 02:41 pm
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