Have you ever had a boss that didn’t trust you?  What about a co-worker that just can’t seem to cut you some slack?  I know I sure have.  I guess it’s pretty normal when you start a new job.  But what about after you’ve been in a position for 6 months or a year or more?  By that time, you’re probably hoping that the ‘cuffs will come off, right?

Well, they don’t always come off.  And that’s a real bummer!  Even if they do, you may still feel like there’s a lack of transparency holding you back.  You know, like the boss closes his door to talk to other people in the department, but you’re left in the dark.  Or what about the dinner meeting that you didn’t get invited to?  Maybe you just feel like you are always the last to know what’s going on.

So, what’s the deal?  How do you overcome this situation?  First, let’s identify the root of the problem…

Here are some of the major causes of the “trust roadblock” :

1.) Insecurity.  Simple as it sounds, some people just don’t feel comfortable trusting other humans.  I feel bad for them.

2.) Legitimate security reasons.  Sometimes secrecy is necessary.  Although it shouldn’t be the norm.

3.) You haven’t taken the time or initiative to build it.  Building trust is complicated and takes time.  Be patient Daniel-son.

4.) You have permanently damaged it.  Trust is hard to build and easy to break.  Don’t shatter this glass, cuz it will hurt!

5.) The person is afraid that you won’t be there very long.  Who wants to build trust with a short-timer?  Nobody.

It probably doesn’t make sense to tackle all of these, since some of them are simply out of your control.  So, let’s focus on the two that I see most often in the workplace:

Problem #3 (You Haven’t Taken The Time Or Initiative To Build It):

Most of the time you have a direct impact on how much your boss or co-workers trust you.  Even though some people inherently keep their guard up; most can learn to trust over time.  What I’m talking about here is NOT a trust where you get to babysit their cat.  This is all about building a trust in the workplace – trust that you’ll get the job done – that you can be counted on.  This kind of trust is one where people are continuously putting slack in your proverbial rope; giving you more responsibility, information, & autonomy.

So, how can you influence this?

First and foremost, be clear on your current responsibilities.  Take a written inventory of what your boss’s expectations are.  Do you have a job description?  If not, make one.  If you do have one, make sure you review it with your boss.  You’d be surprised at the things that are left off or are just assumed!

If a co-worker is the problem, then ask to sit down with him or her.  Ask how you can better serve that person.  Again, the more clearly you can define your role & responsibilities with that individual and within the company, the better chance you have of meeting their needs and building the trust you are looking for.

Second, don’t focus on everyone else’s relationships.  That is futile!  Focus on your relationship with each individual member of the team.  Serve each of them to the best of your ability.

You are much better off serving your co-workers and or supervisor with a clear purpose, regardless of any favoritism or lack of transparency that you may see.  I firmly believe in the saying, “control the controllables”.  YOUR actions are controllable, their’s are not!

Of course, don’t get taken advantage of here.  Be giving, but don’t be naive.

Third, be patient.  As cheesy as it may sound, Rome wasn’t built in a day.  The relationships that your co-workers or boss have with each other may be very comfortable.  If so, they probably don’t like change.  Worse yet, you may have some baggage holding you back.  These factors take time and persistence to overcome.

No matter what, keep serving, keep communicating, and keep trying!

#4 (You Have Permanently Damaged The Trust Given To You):

This is probably the toughest trust issue to overcome!  There are a couple of reasons that this could happen…

You just plain blew it!  Maybe you had an assignment or responsibility where you fell down.  You just couldn’t do it for some reason.  I suggest you sit down with the boss and figure out what happened.  Figure out what you could do differently next time.  This opportunity may take a while, depending on the severity and frequency of the problem.

Don’t forget to apologize for not living up to expectations!  This is a critical step in this process!

Once you’ve identified the issue and taken responsibility, make sure you are taking steps to change.  If you do, people will notice!

You got caught gossiping.  This one is ugly.  I’ve written about it before and will probably write about it again.  It’s the cancer of the business world!  Everyone does it to some extent, whether they know it or not (yep, I’m talking to you).  It’s something that you have to fight against, because it comes so naturally.  The problem is that once your boss or co-workers trust you and you break that trust, by talking smack or spreading a rumor, that trust is destroyed!

The first step in overcoming the gossip problem is to stop it, right now!

I’ve found that a simple rule works best…if you find yourself talking about a person or a problem, to a person that has no direct control or influence over that situation, STOP IMMEDIATELY!  Say it out loud:

I’m gossiping and I need to stop.  I apologize!  Now let’s change the subject!”

If you catch someone else doing it, you’ve got to call them out too – it’s the only way to squash this leukemia of the mind!  Once you get the reputation for stopping negativity and rumors, I’m guessing you’ll earn some more trust points pretty quick!

You went over someone’s head.  This is another tough one.  How can they ever look you in the eye again after you did that?  Hopefully, you spoke with this person before you went over their head.  If not, this will be even harder to break through.

First, YOU will have to humble yourself.  Next, YOU will have to talk to that person and explain what happened.  YOU will have to initiate a dialogue that will most likely be very uncomfortable.

While you can’t always completely fix this one; just the act of talking directly and professionally with the person in question will help earn you some respect, which is the precursor to trust!

What If You Are The Problem?

One last thought here that may be a little touchy.  Maybe YOU are the problem?  Maybe YOU don’t trust people?  Maybe YOU can’t seem to let anyone in.  That’s a lonely place to be.  Not to mention the fact that it’s also very ineffective.

Not trusting people will leave you always doing more work.  It will always leave you with people not trusting you.

Trust is like a bridge.  It takes a long time to build it and it goes both ways.” -Me

There is something awesome about trusting someone and watching that relationship grow.  If you have trouble doing this, I suggest you take some time to figure out why.  Do some soul searching…  Who is it you can’t forgive?

If you find yourself in this spot and recognize that you need to change, I recommend you start small.  Trust in the small things first and see what happens.  You may be surprised at how good it feels!

No matter what happens, trust is vital to building and growing relationships.  “Trust” me when I tell you that building relationships is one of the most important blessings life has to offer.  Start building yours today!

Question:  Do you feel trusted in your workplace?