Can you be trusted?

We throw the word “trust” around a lot in the business world, however, it is sorely lacking from many workplaces.

And I think this is because trust is difficult to understand. It is rooted more in our actions than our words.

Trust means being vulnerable. Opening yourself up to being damaged. Trust is giving someone else the ability to hurt you, but believing that they will not do so.

For example, we trust people more who shake our hands during business dealings than those who don’t. The act of shaking hands is rooted deeply in our psyche. Hundreds of years ago when your life could depend on your ability to wield a sword, offering your unprotected sword hand to another person was a significant event. If they so chose, they could remove it and vice versa for them when they offered theirs to you.

The same goes for bowing to leaders. When we bow, we expose the back of our necks making it not only a sign of respect to that person, but also that we trust that they will not harm us.

Trust is what good teams and companies are built upon. And it will always be built through actions, not words. It comes down to the leader to not only ensure a safe environment where people are able to trust one another, but also by being the first role model of trust – to make themselves vulnerable to their team, trusting that they will support them. To be the first person to bow their head.

When we can trust that our team members and leaders are there to protect us and look out for our best interests then we are willing to work harder and give more; we are free to be creative and try different approaches without fear. And we are able to work better with others – sharing, collaborating and problem-solving with no judgement.

But when trust is lacking, we must spend all our energy looking out for our own welfare. Our time is wasted analyzing what others have said and done to see how it will affect us and we shy away from working with others for fear they might harm us.

Trust will always go a long way, but it must be earned first and that is only done through our actions towards others.

Will you risk it?