#051: How to Build (or Rebuild) Trust [Podcast]

Trust is so crucial in every relationship and every situation. If you don’t have it, it make it very difficult to move things forward. If you’ve lost it, things can go south very fast.


Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/DOUGBERRY

Trust is not something you can take for granted. It takes months—sometimes years—to build. Unfortunately, you can lose it overnight.

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If you are in a situation where you need to build trust—or even rebuild it—here are four specific steps you can take. These will work with your employees, your colleagues, your customers, your vendor or even your spouse.

  1. Keep your word.
  2. Tell the truth.
  3. Be transparent.
  4. Give without any strings attached.

Trust can always be rebuilt. Granted, in some situations, it can take years. It takes doing the right things over a long period of time.

But in most cases, it won’t take that long. Relationships can be turned around quickly if you own the problem and take the steps I’ve outlined above.

Listener Questions

  1. Alan Williams asked, “How do you allow someone to regain their trust with you when they have done something to cause you to distrust them or their leadership?”
  2. Chip Hutcheson asked, “How can I tell if a client or a prospective client has the ability to trust me?”
  3. Evan Umberger asked, “What methods do you suggest for building your trust momentum?”
  4. Jane Graham asked, “How can you rebuild trust with people when doing so might require you to betray someone else’s privacy?”
  5. Kimberley Wiggins asked, “When you are trying to build or rebuild trust I know it is important to be transparent. Is it possible to be too transparent and share too much?”
  6. Kristine Canavan asked, “When you are your own boss, should you let your clients know when you have been unhappy with your performance and given yourself a reprimand?”
  7. Matt Coachran asked, “How do I help someone I lead rebuild trust with those they lead?”
  8.  Mike Burns asked, “How do you discuss sensitive performance issues with someone without out betraying the trust of the person you are discussing?”
  9. Nicky Nics Cahill asked, “How do you rebuild trust with a person who has lied to your face and spread spiteful lies about you to other people, especially when it is someone with whom you have to work on a daily basis?”

Special Announcements

  1. I am speaking tomorrow in Palm Springs, California at the INVEST Financial Corporation’s annual Leaders’ Conference. I will be talking about “Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World,” specifically tailored for people in the financial services industry.

    On Friday, I will be speaking at the CEO Summit in Dallas, Texas, along with my friends, Bob Goff and Francis Chan. I will be doing two keynote sessions: “Why Vision Is More Important Than Strategy” and “Platform.”

    I’ll be off the road the next week and then I’m headed to the SCORRE Conference in Orlando, Florida. We are sold out. But we do have a waiting list.

  2. If you are considering launching your own platform, you need to start with a self-hosted WordPress blog. This is not as complicated as it sounds. In fact, I have put together a step-by-step screencast on exactly who to do it.

    You don’t need any technical knowledge. I walk you through the entire process in exactly 20 minutes. The screencast is absolutely free!

  3. My next podcast will be on the topic of “The Single Most Important Question You Can Ask When Bad Things Happen.” If you have a question on this subject, please leave me a voicemail message.

    This is a terrific way to cross-promote YOUR blog or website, because I will link to it, just like I did with the callers in this episode.

Episode Resources

In this episode I mentioned several resources, including:

Show Transcript

You can download a complete, word-for-word transcript of this episode here, courtesy of Ginger Schell, a professional transcriptionist, who handles all my transcription needs.

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Also, if you enjoyed the show, please rate it on iTunes and write a brief review. That would help tremendously in getting the word out! Thanks.

Question: Are you in a relationship where the level of trust is not what it should be? What can you do today to begin building (or rebuilding) trust? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • http://blog.cyberquill.com/ Cyberquill

    You can’t trust me. Trust me.

  • rabbimoffic

    This is such a powerful episode with many insights and tips. One method I’ve always embraced is remembering that the little things are the big things. I think we build trust (and gain discern trustworthiness in others) by how we and they behave in seemingly small situations. How do we treat a waiter at a restaurant? How do they talk to their children or co-workers? The little things reveal so much about the way a person can handle bigger things.
    The second thing that comes to mind is Warren Buffett’s observation. It takes 20 years to build a reputation. It takes five minutes to lost it. Thanks again Michael.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      You are right, Evan. The little things are the big things. I like the way my favorite rabbi put it, “He who is faithful in little is faithful also in much.” ;-)
      Hope you are well!

      • rabbimoffic

        This truth is so practical. When I served a congregation in Cincinnati, I had a member who was a senior exec at Procter and Gamble. He told me of a little test he had for people he was considering hiring. He would take them out to dinner, and he would watch whether they put any salt or other seasoning on their food BEFORE tasting it. That little act was a sign to him of potential impulsivity, which P and G did not value. I’m not sure I agree with this particular test, but principle of watching and evaluating the little things is powerful.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          That is an interesting test. I practice something similar. I like to take a person and their spouse to dinner before hiring. I want to see how they treat the wait staff and how they relate to one another.

          I have stopped the hiring process cold a few times as a result of what I observed in these situations. I remember one time Gail kicked me under the table, because she was picked up on something I had missed. Her concern was corroborated by our reference checks, which were already in motion. This exercise saved us from what would have been a disastrous hire.

          • http://harrisonjonathan.wordpress.com/ Jonathan Harrison

            Ah, “The Under-Table-Kick.”
            Once my wife used this on me (during negotiations on a car purchase) and I stupidly said something along the lines of “Ow. Why are you kicking me?”
            Out loud.
            In front of the car salesman.
            And then I had to rebuild trust with my wife the whole way home.
            In my old car.

  • http://twitter.com/DonCarmont Don Carmont

    “Bridge the breach of broken trust through openness.” Since trust is the ultimate measure of the quality of relationship, and openness is the measure of trust, when trust has been broken, open confrontation of the issue is the only path to healing the hurt and bridging the breach. When you have regained emotional composue, approach the individual with a simple question: “Help me understand what happened here… I thought we had agreed that… I’m concerned about the outcome and want to hear your side of things before I form any conclusions…”

  • http://forthisisthetime.blogspot.com/ Esther Aspling

    This was a great episode! I’ve found the book “TrueFaced” to be a great lesson in transparency and authenticity. I am worst at this part of trust with my children, and am working to be better at owning up to mistakes with them. Thanks!


    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I liked TrueFaced, too. I read it with my mentoring group. I will be speaking with John Lynch, one of the authors, at an event on Friday. Thanks.

  • http://www.toodarnhappy.com/ Kim Hall

    What a wealth of information and wisdom you have packed into this episode! I especially loved the question from Nicky, who wondered how to proceed with a person who has spread spiteful lies about you. My husband has first hand experience with just that!

    A few years ago, he and I worked in the same department of a company. A woman who also worked there was also well known for her trouble making. One day a co-worker came to us in tears, saying this woman had gone to the VP, lied about us, and asked for us to be fired. We angrily defended ourselves with our reputation—thank goodness for trust—and kept our jobs. I have since left the company.

    Fast forward a couple of years. After being transferred a couple of times, last June my husband was offered the supervisor’s position in this very department, and he would now be managing this woman. He was nervous, to say the least, but had read the book—Love Works by Joel Manby—that I had won from you, Michael, and was prepared to lead with love.

    He applied those lessons on trust, honesty and more, week after week. It has been a miraculous year in that department with changes that no one ever thought possible. This gal recently gave him a hug—a hug!—and told him he was the best boss she ever had. She is one of his strongest supporters, and has become proactive in helping others within and beyond their team.

    These suggestions WORK if you apply them and give them time to take root and flourish. They require patience, humility, a sense of humor, and a willingness to be real (without TMI, of course. :-) )

    Thanks again, Michael, for the book. It was life-changing for us and for those my husband now leads.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Love this story, Kim! Thanks for taking time to share it.

  • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

    It’s taken me years, but to “give without any strings attached,” is the one of the most valuable lessons we can learn in life. Once learned it will increase your rewards and earn you more trust in more relationships.

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  • Guest

    Right now I am reading “Love Works” by Joel Manby, another great resource on the topic of Love in the workplace.

    • Kellen Carroll

      Sorry about the double comment.

  • Kellen Carroll

    Right now I am reading “Love Works” by Joel Manby, another great resource on the topic of Love in the workplace. I am going to have to check out Tim Sanders book.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      That is a terrific book. I reviewed it here on my blog.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bledonni Ben LeDonni

    I think one of the most interesting aspects of Trust is not whether or not I am being trustworthy. I like to think that I am, and I do many of the things you already discussed in your podcast. But, as a trustworthy person, I often think most people are like me, and I often trust until I have a reason not to. What are reasons not to? I feel like I set my bar really low to trust people, and don’t really know what to do differently when I feel like I cannot trust them. I think a podcast or discussion on “How to determine if someone is trustworthy” is something I’d be interested in. It’s easy to say, “reverse my logic”, but I don’t feel as though that’s enough, especially in business.

  • http://www.mythinkingbox.com/ Terry Hadaway

    Great podcast, Michael. Trust is so vital to great leadership yet so absent from the lives of so many leaders. I used to work for a “leader” who likes to read John Maxwell books aloud in staff meetings but never adopted any of John’s leadership strategy. What once was a atmosphere of trust and camaraderie has become a culture of fear and uncertainty. It all started downhill when trust evaporated.

    • Jim Martin

      Your description of the leader who liked to read John Maxwell’s books aloud in meetings without adopting his strategy was interesting. I think there are some people who like the idea of leadership more than they like actually leading. Thanks.

  • http://kimanziconstable.com/ kimanzi constable

    Great episode and the example at the beginning really made things clear Michael. I also like the example of the guy that embezzled and built back trust, way to go for him!

    • Jim Martin

      Kimanzi, I like the example of the embezzler also.

  • http://harrisonjonathan.wordpress.com/ Jonathan Harrison

    I love tip number 4 – sometimes I find myself defending this choice to others. It can be frustrating when others who mean well think you are “giving away too much”
    or that you should “charge more for your services.”

    I know there is a balance, but I’d rather error on the side of generosity.

    Note: the generosity I am speaking of is not threatening my ability to pay bills for feed my family.

  • http://www.rileyadamvoth.com/ Riley Adam Voth

    Hey Michael, I’d love your input and a bit of expansion on one of the questions in this podcast: When taking the hit as a leader like Jesus did, and willingly facing an injustice (and I agree we are called to do this), at what point does it counteract the role as a leader to help a person realize an ongoing problem, poor thinking, or a destructive (sinful) tendency?
    This is a tough struggle as a leader I think, and especially if it’s in a relationship that isn’t business and can’t be called off – such as a marriage. Hope that all makes sense. Any experience or advice on this? Thanks and great episode!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Honestly, Riley, I think I wold have to know a lot more of the details to speak intelligently about this. This is probably a case where it’s hard to go deeper given this medium. Sorry.

      • http://www.rileyadamvoth.com/ Riley Adam Voth

        That’s understandable! I was thinking even as I wrote it that the discernment could be quite situational. I’ve just seen these situations fairly often, but I think it’s simply a tension many in ministry have to deal with (and others I’m sure). “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” Prov19:11 still reigns true. :)
        Thanks for considering it, and again, great episode!

  • http://jeffsanders.tv/ Jeff Sanders

    I love that you said, “ain’t nobody got time for dat!” Too funny Michael! If you start adding more of your secret self (as Jon Acuff describes in his book START), I think we will hear more quotes like that one. Great stuff!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=580636718 Becky Brett Caldwell

    I need some advice from the Hyatt-tribe. At the request of my board of directors I’ve been putting together a new project for my company and along the way have personally and passionately advocated for people to put their trust and money into it for it to work. We were on our way to finalizing contracts when the board’s fear of failure overcame their belief in success, and they summarily pulled the plug on the project.

    When it happened, I fought hard to keep the project, almost to the point of insubordination. I believe the board’s decision was shortsighted and does not fit with the goals that they had set for our organization. What they did also does not represent how I prefer to do business, and has completely destroyed any trust I had in them.

    I listened to your podcast on how to deal with setbacks, and have processed my own issues on this, including identifying my own leadership missteps along the way.

    In the meantime I have had to go back to everyone who generously donated their time and/or money, and to our vendors that we had lined up, including some high-profile people, and explain to them that my board has made this decision and we will not be moving forward with this project.

    Well I have been called names, yelled at, and even threatened by some people who did not take this news well, and I am frankly concerned for my own reputation. I am relatively young, with a lot of career ahead of me in my chosen field, and I have worked hard to be known as someone with good taste who can be trusted.

    Do I need to be concerned about those who threatened to blacklist me personally? Should I try to rebuild trust with them, and if so, where do I even start? And what about my board? Should I try to rebuild the relationship I have with them or start looking for the next opportunity?

    Thank you all for your collective wisdom on these issues.

  • Jim Martin

    Michael, as I listened to your podcast the other day, I thought about how important this subject really is. Trust really is everything. If people genuinely trust a leader, they will often give him/her the benefit of the doubt, even when things don’t go well. However, if people do not trust a leader, it almost doesn’t matter what that person does. Their motives and intentions may be questioned and even assumed to be manipulative or worse.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      So true, Jim. It’s one of those intangibles that is easy to underestimate.

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  • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

    There are times when I don’t trust my team members enough to do the tasks required of their positions. This is something I need to work on for sure. Loved the podcast (as usual). Thanks, Michael.

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  • Matt McVicker

    Michael Thank you for another great podcast!! I think most of these things seem so simple yet so many of us fail to do them!! I know you said it before but I know I just have to slow down and try not to get swallowed up by the latest fire of the day. Being transparent and authentic has been the best way to gain trust.

    Thank you for the four reminders, they are now set as a reoccuring reminder on my phone!! Look forward to your next episode!

  • http://www.facebook.com/hue.iuiu Ho Hoang Hue


  • http://www.facebook.com/bernadette.whalen3 Bernadette Whalen

    I had trust taking away from me very young,but I realize that without Trust it is hard to get a head and to believe in one’s own ability.I’m thankful for what I have learned though the pain from childhood, it has giving me a clearer understanding and has giving me deep roots. I have compassion when it comes to other people’s suffering. if I can disclose what I been through and give hope to others that in itself is a great reward.

  • http://jorgesilvestrini.com/ Jorge Silvestrini

    This is also truth not only for business, but for personal day to day things as well. I’m going through this process with my teenager son. Re-gaining his trust… It’s a process. Not a sprint, not a run – it’s a marathon! I’m committed to fixing it… 4 things I’m keeping very close to me this days… Word / Truth / Transparent / Give