The Trust Factor: 8 Ways to Show You Are Trustworthy

Two men talking at a table in a trustworthy manner

The Trust Factor: 8 Ways to Show You Are Trustworthy

Have you ever been in a new relationship and felt caught in a trust vacuum? Maybe it’s a new customer or prospect, or perhaps just someone you are trying to form a friendship with. You think, “I wish they would just trust me; I have their best interest at heart.”

I have worked with the same auto mechanic for around 30 years. He is a one-man operation. He doesn’t start work until around noon and often works until 10 or 11 at night. His shop is an eclectic mix of vintage pinball machines and old automobile parts. He sometimes doesn’t finish the repair the same day I drop off the car, and I have to wait another day. Despite these flaws, I keep going back. Why? Because I trust that he will treat me fairly and not sell me more than I need. Sometimes, I have to convince him to replace those brakes that still have “about 3,000 miles on them” so that I don’t have to come back in a month.

Trust smooths the road of a relationship. Without it, you are on the rutted road of uncertainty, navigating through boulders and deep potholes. Trust allows you to travel with greater speed and much less disruption. Trust is the roadbed that enables things to get done!

With some people, trust is easier than others. You click, are on the same page, and trust is built quickly. But how do we build trust with people we don’t immediately mesh with? Or how do we build trust with someone who, for some reason, does not trust easily?

Trust starts with being trustworthy. Here are 8 Characteristics That Build Trust and Exhibit Trustworthiness

  1.  Interest – Develop a genuine interest in others. What is important to them? What are their challenges? What are their victories? How can you help them? It is easy to focus inwardly on if they are like you or if you have the same hobby or the same background. These things are good to create as surface connections but take the time to be interested in whatever is their thing, even if you are not on the same page. Ask a question expressing authentic interest in them, and listen, and then ask a follow-up question.
  2. Service – Zig Ziglar said, “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help other people get what they want.” This shift from an internal focus to an external one is not easy, but Zig’s principle is still the key to paving the road of trust. Take a few minutes to assess your real focus. Are you focused on serving or on yourself? The shift to serving others is the paradox that Jesus famously stated when he said, “The greatest among you will be your servant.”
  3. Vulnerability – Building trust is hard when you focus on protecting yourself. You can’t serve others if you always have the focus on you and make sure you aren’t embarrassed or taken advantage of. When protecting yourself, you give off an aura of being closed off and unapproachable. Showing some of your true self and maybe even admitting to a struggle or flaw can create a bond when done in the right environment and attitude.
  4. Common Ground – Common ground alone does not create trust but can be a good starting point. It is a great way to generate conversation and express interest in them. But be careful not to shift the focus to you. Keep the focus on the other person and their experience, and trust will have a place to grow.
  5. Communication Style – Understanding how someone communicates can be a key to connecting with them and building trust. Some people build trust through small talk, while others have little tolerance for it. With some, you might have to earn any conversation about personal things. Others might need to start there and dive right in! It seems simple but recognize that not everyone relates to others in the same way. Adapt to their style!
  6. Question & Listen – This is not intuitive to many of us, but we build trust by asking good questions and listening. Questions are a better trust builder than telling someone about yourself and trying to convince them of your trustworthiness. A question expressing genuine thought and interest in someone else’s situation can quickly convey that you understand and are concerned about them. It is easy to get excited about the conversation and talk too much. Remember at least at the beginning to keep a ratio of them talking 70% of the time and you only 30% of the time. For salespeople who like to chat, yes, this even applies to sales situations.
  7. Consistency – Nothing better to kill trust than a lack of follow-through. If you say you will do something, make sure you do it. If you are that interested and a great listener one day, make sure that you aren’t all wrapped up in protecting your interests tomorrow. Consistency reinforces trust. You can be trustworthy sometimes, but is that who you are all the time? Make sure you are building the foundation of good habits, grounded values, and discipline that make you who you are. For me, this grounding comes only through faith in Jesus Christ, and it is still a work in progress!
  8. Belonging – We all want to belong to something or to be part of something that feels like home. If we can build belonging in a relationship, it creates trust. Being part of something greater looks different depending on the type of relationship. We can be part of a friend group, part of a family, part of a church, part of an exclusive group of customers, part of an elite group of people who created a solution, or part of something. We all want to truly belong to something, so build trust by letting others know they are important through belonging.

Building trust is such a vital part of creating relationships, and yet, it is never done. As we all know, relationships are dynamic. You can’t rely on the trust you built yesterday through a single action.

You must consistently reinforce the relationship with trustworthiness. Trusting relationships requires work, but it is worth it after all; when all the busyness calms, relationships, and people are where we find real value and purpose.