How to maintain trust in your working relationships


In normal times, trust is maintained by those everyday interactions that demonstrate your credibility, reliability, and intimacy. These are not normal times and the last element is probably suffering the most as you socially distance and isolate yourselves from each other. So, how do you maintain these trusting relationships? How do you make sure that you are stronger together? There is one great way to keep the trust high, and it is pretty easy to do.

Talk to each other

Ok, there is a little more to it that that, it is the quality of conversation that you have that matters. If all you talk about is the work you do, then conversations are merely transactions, passing of information with no real connection. The conversations you should be having are about creating spaces to understand and know each other in terms of who you are, what you do , how you do it and why you do it. They are about discovering what matters to each of you, what drives you, motivates you and what you prefer. They are conversations held with the stated intent of building trust and getting to know each other.

Climb the trust pyramid

If these conversations are held with the intention of listening and being genuinely curious about each other, they allow the levels of trust to build. Your conversations stop being merely transaction, or about general topics such as sport and the weather, they become about your attitudes and motivations and your beliefs and values.

Climbing the pyramid allows you to be more engaged with each other, and helps you to tailor the way you work with each other, increasing your effectiveness and making your lives easier. You can coach, challenge and support each other, which is so important during these difficult times.

Reveal your vulnerabilities

It isn’t easy to show vulnerability, particularly in leadership, it can leave you feeling uneasy and afraid of losing control, but these types of conversations aren’t about sharing your deepest darkest secrets, they are about showing that you are human too, that you are willing to trust someone else with things that could hurt you. You do need to be brave, but there is a strong possibility that your colleague will welcome the opportunity that you create and embrace the moment.

It works because…

These conversations appeal to our emotional drivers, particularly those behaviours which move us towards something or away from it. Simply showing someone that you want to listen to them, you want to appreciate them, you want to know them has a huge impact on the level of trust between you, their wellbeing and how valued they feel. It also builds a platform for extending the relationship over time as you now have a shared reference point and potentially mutual interests.

Who do you need to speak to?

Think about the people in your team. With which of them would it be beneficial for both of you to develop a deeper relationship? It’s never too late to start, but it may take a little bit of framing. Why would this conversation benefit them, you and your school? If you make notes around that, it means you can invite them to the conversation in a positive way.

What should you talk about?

This all depends on whether you have an existing trusting relationship or if it is your first conversation designed to build trust. Ask them what they want to know about you, plan questions that both of you could answer that would reveal a little more about yourselves. “What’s really important to you at work? What do you feel passionately about? What do you want to be known for? What matters to you most when trusting others?”

You want to be moving beyond the trivial social conversations and should invite conversation at greater depth, but let them know that this is the intention behind the conversation, don’t spring it on them, it could be awkward…

Ending the conversation

This shouldn’t be the last conversation that you have, so take the time to share the benefits that you have gained by stating them, express your thanks for their openess and honesty, and their willingness to share their values and beliefs.

These aren’t always easy conversations to arrange and hold, but the more you do it the better you get at it and the more trust you will share with your colleagues.

Go on, book that zoom call over a cup of tea, you won’t feel so alone and it will make life so much easier when we return to normal.