Trust: reliance on the integrity, strength, ability or surety of a person or thing; confident expectation of something.

With few exceptions, no one can succeed in much of anything without trust. An employer isn't likely to hire you if you are untrustworthy. A customer won't buy from someone she doesn't trust. A co-worker will doubt your motives if he cannot trust you.

In his landmark bestseller, "The Speed of Trust," author Stephen M.R. Covey calls trust "the one thing that changes everything," as he makes a compelling case for the high costs of not being trusted, and the high dividends earned when trust abounds.

While there are a number of things that have the potential to cause distrust, these three seem quite prevalent today, and have been responsible for much of what makes us a low trust society:


DWYSYWD is "doing what you said you would do." We tell people we will call them right back, then several days go by and they have to call again. We say we'll meet at such-and-such a time, then someone is late. We promise to complete an assignment by a certain date, and we don't.

Nothing kills trust quite as quickly as a lack of integrity in doing what you said you would do.

Solution: In the immortal words of Nike: "Just do it!" Recognize that in order to be trusted in the more important things in life, you must have a sterling track record in doing what you said you would do in the smaller things.

Thus, if you know you cannot positively do what you said you'd do, then don't commit to it. Use a calendar to set the due date at least one day earlier than you committed, and see if you can improve on that. Email a note to yourself to remind you of a commitment you make. Keep and follow a daily do list.

In short, make it a priority to always DWYSYWD.

2. Listening

People can tell whether you are actually listening or just faking it. For most people in most cultures, listening equals respect. Why would anyone trust someone who shows them zero respect? The day you are too busy to listen — really listen is the day you make a most compelling argument for not being trusted.

You cannot be listening if you are "multitasking," because listening involves the whole brain with an undivided attention. And let's not confuse eye contact with listening we've all had people hold periods of eye contact with us via the "thousand-yard stare" while their minds were elsewhere.

Solution: People extend trust to those who truly listen and seek to understand them. People are always a priority over email and other tasks that compete for attention.

Log off email and put down your smartphone and focus on the person. Listen for the message behind the message. Focus on what his or her body language is telling you. Ask questions and engage. Arrange your schedule so that you are available to listen when others need you.

3. Gossip

Gossip is idle talk or rumors, especially about the personal or private affairs of others. It means talking about other people in a way that you would not if they were part of the conversation.

Gossip chases trust away because if you are telling me this about someone else, what are you telling others about me? And since most of gossip is speculative, missing facts and assigning motives, it can be incredibly harmful to others. Trustworthy people don't betray confidences.

Solution: Don't say anything you wouldn't say about someone if they were part of the conversation. Keep confidences like your life depended on it. Remember what your mom taught you, "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all."

When people begin to gossip to you, stop them and tell them you aren't going to participate in gossip or rumors. Speak to the person directly and respectfully (behind closed doors if appropriate) rather than say something behind his or her back.

DWYSYWD, listening and eliminating gossip are three powerful ways to build or re-establish trust with others. When you do, watch how your career moves in a much more positive direction.