How to Build (or Rebuild) Trust

Trust is to an organization what oil is to a car engine. It keeps the moving parts from seizing up and stopping forward motion.

Trust in Building a Human Tower - Photo courtesy of ©, Image #4239994

Photo courtesy of ©

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

Some people seem to have a knack for building trust. When they speak, others take them at their word. When they are absent, people speak well of them. Even when they make a mistake, people give them the benefit of the doubt.

Others are just the opposite. People distrust what they say. They are suspicious of their motives. They interpret every comment, every e-mail, and every action as one more reason the person cannot be trusted.

Years ago, I had such a person reporting to me. Justin started out well. He had come to our company with an impressive resume. People assumed he was competent. But over time, he single-handedly destroyed his own reputation.

He didn’t keep his word. He was always late to meetings. He didn’t follow-through on his commitments. Worse, he never owned up to any of it. He always tried to “spin” the facts in his favor. From his perspective, the other party simply misunderstood what he had said or circumstances beyond his control kept him from keeping his commitments.

Unfortunately, I put up with Justin’s behavior longer than I should have. No one trusted him. First, his peers began to complain. Then his direct reports (risking his wrath) started coming to me and complaining. Even my own boss didn’t trust Justin. I was the last man standing.

I finally woke up and realized that others were beginning to doubt my ability as a manager. I was hoping to turn him around. I had even coached him on specific behaviors. But he just didn’t seem to “get it.” So, I took a deep breath and fired him. The only one surprised was Justin. Everyone else patted me on the back and, I’m sure, wondered what took me so long.

But things shouldn’t have deteriorated to this point. Justin could have been salvaged if only he had owned what was happening. He could have taken specific steps—steps I had encouraged him to take—to rebuild trust with his direct reports and colleagues.

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 vendors—or even your spouse.

  1. Keep your word. This is where it starts. People have to learn that they can count on you to deliver on your promises. If you commit to following up on something, do it. No excuses. If you can’t do it, proactively let the other person know.

    For example, “Terri, last week I told you that I would get back to you with a proposal. However, I am waiting for a bid to come through from an outside vendor. It looks like that might add a week to my schedule.” People are usually very forgiving if you take the initiative to communicate. However, if they have to chase you down, you lose points. Your reputation will take a hit.

    Also, be prompt to meetings. Tardiness also erodes trust. Sometimes, circumstances beyond your control prevent this, but you can’t allow it to become a habit. And, if you are late, apologize. Show some empathy and explain briefly why you were late.

  2. Tell the truth. This is harder than it sounds. Most of us like to think of ourselves as truth-tellers. But it’s easy to round the numbers up, spin the facts, or conveniently leave out the evidence that doesn’t support our position.

    But if we are going to build trust, then we have to commit ourselves to telling the truth—even when it is difficult or embarrassing. People are more forgiving than you think. (Witness all the celebrities who have publicly blown it, apologized, and received a pass.) They don’t expect you to be perfect. However, they do expect you to acknowledge your mistakes and to come clean when you screw up.

    Sam Moore, my predecessor as the CEO of Thomas Nelson used to say, “Tell me the good, the bad, and the ugly.” Whenever I needed a decision from him, I would give him both sides of the argument. I refused to withhold relevant information. I didn’t exaggerate. I always rounded down.

    Then I would make my recommendation and tell him why. Over time, this built trust. He didn’t have to ask someone else to get the other side of the story. As a result, I usually received his approval on the spot.

  3. Be transparent. People will not trust you unless you learn to share yourself, warts and all. You have to take a risk and be vulnerable. This creates rapport and rapport builds trust.

    However—and be warned!—you can’t use this as a gimmick or a technique. If you do, people will see it as manipulation. Instead, you have to be authentic.

    The reason this builds trust is because you are demonstrating trust. You are taking the initiative to go first. In essence, you are saying, “Look, I trust you. I am taking off my mask and showing you my true self. Some of it isn’t very pretty. But I am willing to take that risk, believing you will still accept me.”

    In my experience, this kind of self-revelation almost always gives the other person the courage to take off their mask, too. And that builds trust. The relationship is deepened. It goes to a new level.

  4. Give without any strings attached. Nothing builds trust like love. What does love have to do with the workplace? As Tim Sanders points out in Love Is the Killer App, everything.

    You have to be willing to share your knowledge, your contacts, and your compassion—without expecting anything in return. The more you take the initiative to give, the more it builds trust.

    Giving lets others know that you know it’s not “all about you.” From this, people learn that they can trust you, because you have their best interests at heart. You aren’t merely looking out for yourself. You’re taking care of them, too.

    But, like being transparent, you have to be careful how you give. Otherwise, it will be perceived as manipulation. You have to make sure your motives are pure. You can’t expect something in return.

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.

Questions: What can others do to build trust with you? How can you apply this to building trust with others? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Jon Stolpe

    Backup your team members.  When I have their backs, they’ll have mine as well.

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  • Joe Abraham

    Beautiful! I believe loyalty works well in building or re-building trust. When the other party sees your loyalty, he/she will start trusting you. 

    • Michael Hyatt

      I agree. Usually, you have to go first. Thanks for your comment.

      • Joe Abraham

        That’s true. The one who broke it got to mend it.

  • Cyberquill

    I’m extremely unreliable. Trust me on that. 

  • Bonnee

    Keeping confidential things confidential is another good place to start; if someone opens up to you first, don’t exploit them. It’s just immoral. Communication is a good step as well, not just when you’ve said you’re going to do something and don’t do it, but also when you’re going to do something… let the people who need to know, know. Don’t go off behind their backs. 

    • Michael Hyatt

      I agree with this. It is so important. I violated this early in my career with an acquaintance who shared something confidential. It took an apology and years to rebuild my trust. It was a sobering lesson.

      • Dave Anderson

        This is really true when you fire someone.   Others want to know why.  I would usually tell the others that the reasons are between me and the person who left.  No one had the “right” to know why someone was asked to leave except the person leaving.

        The others on the team respected this and knew I would never talk about them behind their backs because of this example.

    • Rachel Lance

      This rule is true in so many contexts. I learn more about the person doing the talking than I do about the one being talked about. This rule is definitely worth practicing to perfection.

  • Patricia Zell

    I really don’t like the word transparent–a word that is used a lot in Christian circles–because it implies that we should hold nothing back. I believe that if we love, then transparency is moot. When we put the best interests of others first, then who we are becomes irrelevant to them. We all have a right to a private life with God that is not dependent on what other people think, say, or do. Trust comes when we take responsibility and are kind to those around us.

    • Michael Hyatt

      That’s an interesting point, Patricia. I definitely don’t think transparency requires that we hold nothing back. I’ll have to think some more about your comment. Thanks for stimulating my thinking.

      • David Hare

        TRANSPARENCY is an issue of revealed intentions more than the actions and details themselves.  I often indicate that transparency does not mean full disclosure, but rather the full disclosure of  intentions with the necessary detail.  Then it is a process and willingness to communicate that makes that work.

      • David Hare

         One additional point to what I have posted below, is that think of the strategies in negotiations.  It is more about interests than positions.  It is the same with building Trust and Transparency.  Now, you can’t live on interests alone without positional detail.  However, that is what drives trust in this process.

    • Bonnie Clark

      Without transparency, I feel that one might just consider you to be “dependable” (not that this is a bad thing).  With transparency, you not only love but give opportunities to be loved – you are vulnerable.  Mutual trust grows, and can deepen, when you are both equally invested in the relationship.  I see this as especially true in marriages, and can’t imagine not being transparent with my husband.  I think it can be true at work as well, but perhaps the context is different and you are sharing struggles, fears, joys, hopes and dreams related to work.

    • Jeff Randleman

       I understand what you are saying.  I think that there need to be levels of “transparency”.  Not everyone is able to see all the inner levels of my life.  The better I know you, the higher the trust, the deeper I allow people to see.   

    • Kari Scare

      I think transparency has more to do with authenticity than holding nothing back. I am transparent and let people know that I struggle, but I don’t always reveal the details of my struggle. They know I am authentic because of my transparency, but they don’t need to know all the details. Telling everything would cause transparency to backfire, I think, because people don’t know the context or situation and so many assumptions can be made. I guess it’s about balance.

    • Patricia Zell

      Over the years, I have learned to trust God (whom I dearly love) and to love people. He is the One that I’m transparent with–I tell Him everything that I’m thinking, feeling, and doing, and I continually ask Him for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. God is the One who helps me to pray for and to be kind to everyone I come in contact with. He is the One who has set me free to love my neighbor as I love myself.

      • Twoball17

        awesome God is good

  • Steve Hawkins

    Gossip is a big trust breaker. If a confidence shared in private is publicized to the masses, people will be suspect of one another.

    • Jeremy Statton

      Agreed. It is related to #1,  keeping your word.

  • chris vonada

    “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” – Hemingway.
    I usually will trust someone until they give me reason not to… it’s a matter of what I’ll trust them with… baby steps for sure but keep moving in a positive direction… live it and life it well :-)

    Loved this list!

    • Dave Anderson

      Wow.  Steal my thunder Chris!  That is a comment I’ve made to every new person coming onto my team and to every new team I have taken over.  

      “You do not have earn my trust.  I am giving it to you freely.  I trust you and will trust you right up to the point you give me a reason not to.”

      Next week I am posting on : How New Leaders on New Teams Build Trust.  You will see that statement.

      • chris vonada

        Looking forward to reading this Dave, excellent!

    • Jeremy Statton

      Thanks for the quote. I hadn’t heard that one before. Trust sounds like a great place to start.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Great quote. Thanks.

    • Barry Hill

       Love the quote!

  • Dave Anderson

    I have a series of White Papers on organizational values.  I wrote a paper about Trust.  Imagine working for an organization that had these principles of trust as SOP’s.

    Trust is maintained within Acme Inc. in the following ways:

    -We will not sacrifice our integrity.

    -We will focus on shared goals rather than personal agendas.

    -We will respect everyone as equal partners.

    -We will keep our promises to our customers and each other.

    -We will admit our mistakes and ask for forgiveness.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for sharing this. Excellent. We had a similar value at Thomas Nelson and identified the specific behaviors that demonstrated we were living out the value. It was very helpful.

    • saima

      worthy tips

  • John Richardson

    Trust is the number one aspect of team building. You’ve got to have each other’s backs. Without it, the team crumbles.

  • Mike Pratt

    I find time spent together in a variety of situations and with consistently help build trust too.  Like my grandma told me, “if you want a friend, you’ve gotta be a friend!” 

    • Michael Hyatt

      This is very true. Thanks.

    • Barry Hill

       Your Grandma was a very wise lady—and this sounds like a something a grandma would say, doesn’t it?

  • Thad Puckett

    What a great challenging post to start the week.  I have so much to ponder about myself as both a follower and a leader.  Am I doing those things necessary to trust and be trusted?  

  • Catalyst

    I agree so much hinges on trust and for things like morale and team spirit it’s critical. 

  • Nathanchittyorlando

    The work of Stehpen Covey’s son on Trust is as good as it gets. 
    Stephen M. R. Covey is co-founder and CEO of CoveyLink Worldwide. A sought-after and compelling keynote speaker and advisor on trust, leadership, ethics, and high performance, he speaks to audiences around the world. He is the author of The SPEED of Trust, a groundbreaking and paradigm-shifting book that challenges our age-old assumption that trust is merely a soft, social virtue and instead demonstrates that trust is a hard-edged, economic driver—a learnable and measurable skill that makes organizations more profitable, people more promotable, and relationships more energizing. He advocates that nothing is as fast as the speed of trust and that the ability to establish, grow, extend, and restore trust with all stakeholders is the critical leadership competency of the new global economy. Covey passionately delivers that message and is dedicated to enabling individuals and organizations to reap the dividends of high trust. Audiences and organizations alike resonate with his informed, practical approach to real-time issues that affect their immediate and long-term performance.

  • Peter Walters

    Thanks for the post.  I think “Keep your word” is the beginning of it all.  I remember the days when “your word was you bond”  great days indeed.  Hope the practice comes back in style:)

  • Jeremy Statton

    I love the part about giving. We give mostly to receive something in return, which really isn’t a gift at all. It is an exchange.

  • Kirk Weisler

    I remember being with Stephen Covey when he was asked how to rebuild trust after it has been broken.  His simple answer has always remained with me.  He simply said, “Make a promise and then keep it.”  

    He went on to explain that it didn’t matter if the promise was big or small…only that it was kept.  Then do it again.

    • Jim Martin

      Kirk, thanks for sharing this.  This is a simple and memorable step that all of us can take.

  • Craig Jarrow

    Michael, great lessons on trust.

    To me it is always amazing that the individual in question often doesn’t realize they are being dishonest.

    On point #2, I really like that you mentioned “rounding up.” I was recently in a business conversation where numbers were being rounded up to the nearest whole number. However, the $’s involved were so large, I had to interrupt and say, “You realize that you are inflating revenue by *millions* of dollars?”

    The individual presenting defended by saying that it was a “small percentage.” However, their slides misrepresented the company’s success by over 100 million dollars. 

    When I see situations like these… I often wonder what other areas of their life these individuals are “rounding up.”

    • Michael Hyatt

      So true. I discovered in working with investors that if you always round down, they learn to trust you.

  • Rebecca Haley Livermore

    Admitting to my clients what I’m not good at seems to go a long way toward building trust. For instance, I had a client ask about my experience with webinars, and I admitted that I had very little experience with webinars but was willing to learn. Her response was, “That’s okay. We’ll become pros together.” And we have. The way I see it, if I’m bad or inexperienced with something, I may as well admit it because if I don’t, that will become obvious as time goes on, so I may as well be honest about it right up front.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I totally agree with this counsel. No one is good at everything. When you admit it, people take your competencies even more seriously. Thanks.

  • Jonathan Thompson

    Is it me getting older or does it seem like the younger generation is more and more trying to blame someone  or something rather than own up to the root of the problem, which is themselves?

    And maybe it is not just the younger generation, it seems like society as a whole has shifted to this way of thinking that it is someone else who is to blame.

    I know the blame game has been around since Adam and Eve, but it just seems like I see more of it now.

    I have more respect and trust for a person who owns up to their mistakes rather than trying to pin them on someone else.

    • Dale Melchin

      You are not kidding, Mr. Thompson.  I am in my early 30’s and I was born right on the edge between the Gen X and Gen Y (Millennial) (1981) and so I know exactly what you are talking about.

      I have noticed some of those generational tendencies in myself however, over time,  I’ve worked really hard to overcome them and be a more responsible competent person.  Once I was on the far side of that life change (having eradicated most of the personal tendencies toward blaming) I opened my eyes and began to notice the magnitude of the blame tendency.

      At this point in my life I cannot imagine surrendering that much emotional control over one’s life to where you are programmed to blame everyone and anything.  Its like the entire generation is looking at all the self-help literature, plugging their ears and going hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!

      This next comment may seem political, but its not, I’m using it to make a point.  I had an associate of mine who was upset about his personal situation after graduating from college all because… despite the fact that he had voted for a certain someone and he had accomplished that agenda, the heads of banks still had jillions of dollars and he was having to take measly assistant manager (30k/year) position to pay off his debt for his overpriced degree.  Really? The housing crisis and the President of the United States is responsible for your woes?  There isn’t any possibility you made the wrong choices?  Or that you need to work a little harder to find the right job in your field?

      When I offered this advice to him he and his girlfriend both got up in arms with me.  I responded.  Its called paying your dues.  Everyone does it.

      Sorry to go on the long rant.  I just wanted to drive the point home about the blame game.

      • Dale Melchin

        I just realized my comment is the length of a blog post.

        • Barry Hill

          It’s a great comment!

        • Jonathan Thompson

           That’s OK, it adds value to this community and this post.

          It makes a blog post alive.

          I would love to have people write a comment the size of a book on my blog posts.

    • Barry Hill

      To some degree—yes. On the other hand, when you are younger, you have a more difficulty time identifying the tendency to find blame, in yourself or others—because you are young. SO, when you get a few years, and a little maturity under your belt, and then you hear this “heart condition” from the upcoming generation, it appears to be a new thing—but in reality it has always been there. However, I do think it is getting more and more pronounced.

      People are also sharing a lot more of their opinions/feelings, social media etc.., that were kept a LOT more private even 10 years ago.

      Just my $.02.

      • Jonathan Thompson

         Sigh ……. i am getting older.

        Yeah, we are more out in the open about our feelings now.  The net gives you a feeling of anonymity, which is not always the case.

  • Sachin Kundu

    One sure way for a manager to build trust with their reports is to let them handle the situation when problems arise. Most managers take back all control at first signs of problem which makes the reports believe that their manager does not trust them.

    The best way to earn trust is to trust.

    • Barry Hill


      I like that quote a lot. “The best way to earn trust is to trust.”

  • deandeguara

    Trust trumps everything. It has paralyzed our staff for years. Two steps forward, twelve steps backwards. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to face and try to solve. Mistrust is deeply rooted…I’ll pull it out, but it pops up again.

  • Daphne Delay

    You nailed the one thing I see in people that absolutely ruins in forward-motion, and that is their inability to “own” it. I had an employee who could get caught in a lie and she still had a hard time owning it. I learned later that she had a fear-complex from her childhood that made her fear letting us down, but as compassionate as I was (and long-suffering) she no longer works for us. It’s sad that people can’t see the integrity behind (and ultimately trust from others) when we will simply take responsibility for missing it.

    • Kari Scare

      Our 11-year-old son struggles with owning his mistakes. I’m thankful that we are able to work with him on that and hopefully stop these sorts of things from happening to him when he’s an adult. This just shows the importance of keeping short accounts in all areas of life. In other words, deal with things right away before they become out of control and overwhelming.

  • Dale Melchin

    When I was first in management I didn’t have a clue what I was doing so I tried to build my own little fiefdom in my department and I did the exact opposite of each of these recommendations.  This was of course 10 years ago and I was much less wise back then.  I ended up burning out a year and a half later from not getting anywhere in that position with either my reports or my supervisor.  As I’ve wisened I’ve found that these 4 things are basically bedrock principles you can bank on.  Thanks so much for writing this!

    • Barry Hill

      Thanks for sharing your lessons learned and your transparency! One of the reasons I think most of us are pretty forgiving, as a people, is because most of us remember a time when we have violated one of these steps.

  • Kay

    I love this article and totally believe in doing this.  The only problem is that when you are dealing with a Narcissistic person…they will take all all your good intentions and flip it on it’s head.  If you are transparent with them, they will use it against you every time…and leave you looking like you are the one with a problem.  Thankfully, most people are not like this…so overall, this is an awesome way to live.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, all bets are off when you are dealing with narcissists!

  • Adam Rico

    Great post Michael! I highly recommend “The Speed of Trust ” by Stephen M.R. Covey. It discusses this topic and points out that when trust goes down the cost of doing business goes up and speed to get things done goes down. He uses the post 911 airport screening process as an example. Trust is absolutely essential for any healthy relationship as well as organizational success.

    • Barry Hill

      This sounds like a great book. Is it long? Easy read? Thanks for the recommendation.

      • Dale Melchin

        The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in this regard.  it is about as thick as 7 Habits, but junior reads faster than dad does.  Nothing against Covey Sr. as I have attempted to integrate the book into my life, just an observation.

        • Adam Rico

          Yes, it is a bit meaty, but well worth it. The book does a great job of challenging our thinking about how trustworthy we are and how that impacts our success and influence. 

          I would recommend it for anyone who wants to influence others effectively.

          • Barry Hill

            Sounds like a book I would like.

        • Barry Hill

           Thanks, Dale.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I keep meaning to read this book. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Cheri Gregory

    ” People are usually very forgiving if you take the initiative to communicate.”

    I’m reading One Small Step Can Change Your Life (thank you for the recommendation!) and was impressed by the story of the emergency clinic with terrible customer satisfaction ratings due to long wait times. The clinic couldn’t afford to make changes that required added expenses, so they changed how they treated patients by taking strong initiative to let them know how long the wait might be, apologizing for delays, and expressing gratitude for their patience. 

    Customer satisfaction skyrocketed not because patient wait time improved but because  clinic personnel too the initiative to communicate. As one who hates making excuses, and prefers to hope that nobody notices that I’m running late on a project, I need to put this into practice!

    • Michael Hyatt

      That is a great example, Cheri. Thanks!

  • Ryan Hanley

    Trust is such an amazingly important topic in life.  Trust is the social capital of the world… With trust we can move mountains…

    I’m not usually one to drop links in comments but I just wrote on the Topic of trust and I think it fits in perfectly with your Thoughts above:

    Hope you don’t mind Michael!

    Great stuff.

    Ryan H.

  • Jeff Randleman

    Consistency is another key to building trust.  Being consistent in all of the areas you mention is critical.  Great lesson for me today. Thanks!

    • Kari Scare

      Your comment brings to mind one of my favorite sayings as well as something I try to live by: Do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it. This will produce consistency that leads to being trustworthy.

      • Michael Hyatt

        Amen to that. I would also add, “And if you can’t do what you said you would do by when you said you would do it, tell me.” I am very forgiving if people just communicate.

        • Kari Scare

          Good addition and very important to do if at all possible. Although, I have found that having a reputation of doing what I say I’m going to do when I say I’m going to do it gives me forgiveness even when I mess up and forget to communcate something won’t be done ahead of time. Amazing how forgiving people are when you don’t usually let them down. At least, that has been my experience.

        • Jeff Randleman

          That applies to my kids as well, but out of fear, they are tempted to lie.  Unfortunately, that’s a trait that many people never seem to grow out of…  I hope I give my kids a better shot at integrity. 

      • Jeff Randleman

        I agree with that completely.  That is a big thing with our kids right now, in their particular ages.  We are trying to teach them to follow through with what they say they’ll do.

        • Kari Scare

          So hard to do in a world where so many adults fail to follow through with commitments and instead justify why they don’t have to keep them. But, we keep doing it because we know it’s the right thing to do.

          • Jeff Randleman

            It’s a hard thing to teach kids when their friends may not be learning the same values…

          • Kari Scare

            So true. My boys are old enough to really be noticing the disparity, and we have been having some really good conversations based on their observations. Been good for them to understand why things are different and good for us to have to explain it to them

  • ben

    I fully agree with all the steps you mentioned. It is also important to be very careful in giving trust within the context of work performance because the culture of the society  where you belong has to be considered.  There are leaders who would immediately think that you are “weak” when you give trust and be transparent. Other people would also tend to use their personal knowledge about you when relational conflicts happen.  So it is still important to give at the right venue, time, opportunity and the right person. How to do this would need practice and experience.     

    • John Tiller

      Ben, you bring up a great issue about understanding the culture of the work environment that you are in.  You may need some tough skin for leaders who view you as “weak” or take advantage of your trust and transparency.   

  • Jonathan Thompson

    This is interesting in that it went along with my daily Bible reading today.

    2 Corinthians  chapter 7 Paul said to the church in Corinth:

    2Co 7:16  I rejoice therefore that I have confidence in you in all things.

  • Yuse Lajiminmuhip

    Great tips. I definitely need to work on #1.

  • Sundi Jo Graham

    Transparency is so huge. You can only act like someone else for so long before the real you starts to shine. 

    • Jim Martin

      Sundi, you are right.  Transparency is so important.  Eventually the real you has a way of leaking out.

  • Jedidiah Smith

    Thank you for the reminder, Michael. Most people are willing to give the benefit of the doubt to a new leader, but once trust is lost, it is extremely difficult to regain.

    I think #3 is the most difficult because we think people expect leaders to be perfect. The truth is they usually just want us to be real.

    • Randy Dignan

      Jedidiah Smith??  Can’t be the same one from Missouri I may know??  This is Randy Dignan…  I apologize if this is not the same one!  Have a great Day!

    • Jim Martin

      Jedidiah, you make a good point.  Once trust is lost, it can be very difficult to regain.  Of course, sometime it can be regained.  However, it is less difficult and less complicated to simply be a good caretaker of the trust in a relationship long before it is ever broken.

  • Merritt

    I’m so glad you mentioned that these four steps will work in marriage as well. I just posted on my blog today about five things never to do in your marriage — even as I wrote it I knew there would be people out there reading who had ALREADY done any one of those things. This post is a great follow-up of what to do if the damage has already been done. Your work-place example does an excellent job of painting a picture of how easily trust can be broken even in less emotional situations than a marriage. Thanks for this encouraging word today. 

    • John Tiller

      Hi Merritt, I just read and subscribed to your blog.  That’s a great post today with five “nevers” in your marriage.  So true that this post follows well with re-building trust.  Thanks for sharing!

      • Merritt

        Hi John! Thanks so much for stopping by to read my blog! I’m thrilled that you would subscribe, too! I was so glad to read (and be able to link to) Michael’s post today…there’s always hope to rebuild, even if it’s hard!

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  • Kari Scare

    Honesty and transparency are the keys to building trust with me. We have taught both of our boys that how much we trust them is totally up to them. They get to decide based on how trustworthy they choose to be. The oldest gets that, but the youngest does not. Unfortunately, some people struggle to trust regardless of how trustworthy someone is most likely because of past hurts. (That’s one of the problems with my youngest who is adopted.) We tell him over and over that his actions need to match his words. That if he says he wants to be honest and trustworthy and to have responsibility, his actions need to show that his what he wants. He, like so many adults, struggle with matching actions to words. People are great at saying the right things but not always at doing that which backs up their words. Not only does this create mistrust, but it also creates a double-minded mindset within the individual that is unsettling within them.

    • Joe Lalonde

       I can sympathize with your youngest and where he comes from. Past hurts can make it insanely difficult to be honest and to trust others. I had a few situations like that and I still find myself retreating in certain areas because of it. But I encourage you to continue working with your son. Help rebuild the trust and let him know that your love will be there regardless.

      • Kari Scare

        Thank you for the encouragement. The past two weeks have been especially difficult. Seems like we move forward for a while and then stop or move backward. Sometimes, so much seems to be clicking, and sometimes, like now, nothing seems to be registering. Thanks again.

  • Steve Martin

    It’s becoming harder and harder to trust.

    I guess we will get burned from time to time. And that is where we get the chance to exercise another dimension of our humanity…forgiveness. Talk about tough!

    • Joe Lalonde

       It is tough Steve. But when you practice it, it is very rewarding.

  • Michael Mulligan

    I often refer to “the circle of trust” story from “Meet the parents.”  Admission into my circle is free.  Re-admission pricey.  This applies to every relationship.  I allow anyone to enter my circle of trust without ever feeling entitled to be admitted into their circle.  And If I’m allowed inside another person’s circle of trust, I consider it a prized gift I must cherish at all costs.

    • Michael Hyatt

      That’s a great scene. Love it!

  • Randy Dignan

    Great read!  Trust is so powerful!  Thank God we can trust in Him and know He never fails!!  I think this article is powerful and is a necessary read for all leaders!  I can’t help but think of Caleb in the Bible!  He had God’s trust and Joshua’s trust!  Numbers 14:24 tells us that Caleb had another spirit and fully followed God!  He was reliable!  That’s why even well up in years he said “I want that mountain” and got it!  To me, Caleb told the truth, was transparent, kept his word, and gave!  Again, thank you for the great read!  God bless y’all and make it a great day!

    • Joe Lalonde

       The example of Caleb is a great one Randy!

      How do you apply this to your life?

  • kimanzi constable

    Great post Michael. All of these points are necessary in building trust. No one likes or respects a liar and we have way too much lying going on in our world today, even at the highest level! If someone followed these points they would build trust with me.

  • Joe Lalonde

    One of the ways people can build trust with me is by telling me “No” when asked to take on a responsibility or task that they know they cannot complete or are unable to do the best job possible. I actually wrote a post that is very similar to point one: Keep Your Word called How is Your Follow Through?

    Too many people lack follow through due to a variety of reasons. Overcommitment, lack of desire, or disorganization. Regardless of the reason, it starts to erode the trust that had been built.

    • Jim Martin

      Joe, what you say is very true.  You are right.  Failure to follow through does erode trust and sometimes very quickly.

  • Randy Dignan

    Mr. Lalonde…  Thank you for your response…  Caleb to me is an inspiration in several ways to me that I try to copy in my life!  One, life is too short!  Two, there is too much good to focus on, rather than focus on the little bad!  All 12 spies saw the same things…  Ten focused on ceratin things that the TWO did not; and vice versa!  Third, Caleb is synonymous with Joshua!  I try to engage with other optimist people…  You know the old saying…  Soar with the eagles or run with the turkeys??!!  I sure appreciate Caleb the more I study him!  Have a great day!

    • John Tiller

      I love the Caleb analogy, Randy.  Twelve years ago, we named our son Elijah Caleb, and your comment may be the best description I have of why we chose his middle name!  

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  • PepperVA_Grace

    I agree that establishing trust is very important. That’s why I believe that we should be careful in everything that we do because the moment we compromise trust, we already created our own unforgettable mistake that could hurt someone even ourselves.

    • John Tiller

      So true.  It can take a lifetime to build trust, but only a moment to lose it!

  • ScottWimberly

    This was awesome! Great stuff. I can’t say enough good things about this blog. Thanks!!

  • Jodi Detrick

    I’ve been a faithful daily reader of your blog for many months now.  Once again today, as I’ve done at the end of so many pieces, I found myself whispering under my breath, “That’s SO good.” Just wanted to pop in with a big thank you, especially for living out point 4 through this blog: Give without any strings attached.  I’m a grateful recipient and hope to pass along your largess to those in my circle of influence. (By the way, I’m a regular rotating religion columnist for The Seattle Times–grateful to have a voice for faith in Jesus to one of the most unchurched regions in our nation.)  Please keep up the great work–cheering you on with deep appreciation!   ~Jodi Detrick

    • Jim Martin

      Jodi, well said!  I concluded reading the post thinking much the same.  This was a very, very good post!  Thanks.

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  • Jodi Lobozzo Aman

    Love your list, I try to practice each one!

  • Crisnole

    For me trust is built when someone chooses to listen well, ask great questions and pauses long enough to get an answer. Trust is often for me built in the pause. For me, I can work at returning phone calls sooner so that those who are in relationships with me will trust the connection.


  • TNeal

     Good list that prompts a lot of thoughts. I know I’ve consciously had to work on point #4, “Give without any strings attached.” My wife exemplifies this so well and I find her generous spirit is contagious. Even I catch it sometimes.

  • TNeal

    In reading other comments, I was reminded of a situation that arose yesterday. A baseball player who doesn’t get a lot of playing time is related to the high school principal. His dad talk to the principal. She spoke with the varsity coach about the JV player’s playing time which then came back to the JV coach (and ultimately to me as assistant JV coach). When a principal questions her coaches, she erodes her own credibility.

    And as the coaches talk to one another, an heir of distrust develops. And, even as I write this, I’m aware that a problem may deepen or correct itself by my choices. How will I approach the situation and what will my words and actions do to enhance an atmosphere of collegiality and trust?

  • Jay Sandt

    I have also seen trust be built when two people that don’t know each other come together because of they have both gone through similar situations. You ever wonder why soldiers in a war zone can trust their buddy to back them up when the heat is on. Because both of them are in the same situation. Ever wonder why someone that lost a parent to a tragedy can build an instant relationship with someone else 10 years later that had the same thing happen to their parents? Sometimes it may take some digging but I would suggest trying to find something that two people can rally around.

  • Daren Sirbough

    Thanks for the post. When people back you up, that builds trust with me.

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  • Saif Eye

    Hey, I am quite a new guy in marketing profession. And that’s why building trust is quite important for me, for the sake of my profession. I think this article should be shared much for the other new marketeers. Welcoming you to the unique video on life and trust

  • ofwnurse

    building trust is very essential in all aspects of our life…I’ll definitely take note of your advise and try to  live with it  for the rest of my life..

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  • Martyn J Wood

    Provide an arena for  people to speak openly don’t try and fix people, but come along side and be present in their situation, intentionally listen without judgement. As for myself I will continue to be vulnerable and real, and risk hurt if this is the cost for establishing  deep life long  relationships

  • DentalAccountant

    For me trusting a person takes time. We need first to build relationship in order to trust a person, am I right? I agree that telling the truth and keeping your word is one of the best  way to gain trust.

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  • Mark Mansfield

    Michael, just what I was looking for. Thank you.


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  • matt jason

    If you fight unfairly, then you destroy trust. If you fight fairly, you
    build trust. Here are a few important pointers to make sure that when
    you fight, you fight fair:

    1. Never resort to name calling or putdowns.

    2. Keep to the issue at hand. Never bring up old stuff that may be
    unresolved. The present fight is not a license to dump all your old

    3. Never use phrases that are absolutes such as, “you never” or “you always.”

    4. Never bring the other person’s family into the issue to support your case or to attack your spouse’s.

    5. Agree beforehand on a method how to take a time out if one of you feels that the fight is getting out of hand.

    6. Don’t start a fight later in the night, when you’re both tired and
    therefore more likely to have less control over your emotions.

    7. And again, do your best to use “I-statements” rather than “you-statements,” which feel like attacks.

    Trust is one thing that takes a long time to build and a very short time
    to destroy. Be careful how you treat each other. Many people wrongly
    believe that in a good marriage, you can “relax” and not have to monitor
    everything you say and do. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

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