25 Ways to Build Trust at Work

Trust Under ConstructionMost people assume that trust “just happens” in relationships. Like some sort of relational osmosis, people figure that trust just naturally develops over the course of time, and the longer you’re in relationship with someone, the greater the likelihood you’ll build a strong bond of trust.

Well, if you believe that, I’m sorry to burst your bubble. Trust doesn’t work that way.

Trust is based on perceptions, and those perceptions are formed by the behaviors you use. If you use trustworthy behaviors, you’ll be trusted. If you use behaviors that erode trust, people won’t trust you. It comes down to those simple and routine behaviors you use every day at work.

If you need help building trust at work, here are 25 specific ways you can start:

  1. Follow-through on your commitments.
  2. Take a genuine interest in your colleagues.
  3. Mentor someone.
  4. Strive to be the best at what you do.
  5. Tell the truth.
  6. Don’t gossip.
  7. Keep confidences.
  8. Listen well.
  9. Incorporate the ideas of others.
  10. Praise people for a job well done.
  11. Be responsive to requests.
  12. Under-promise and over-deliver.
  13. Walk your talk.
  14. Stand up for what is right.
  15. Admit your mistakes.
  16. Apologize when necessary.
  17. Constantly build your expertise.
  18. Build rapport with others.
  19. Be inclusive and appreciate diversity.
  20. Be on time for meetings and appointments.
  21. Demonstrate strong organizational skills.
  22. Say please and thank you.
  23. Go out of your way to help others.
  24. Be receptive to feedback.
  25. Be friendly.

Of course those are just the tip of the iceberg. What other key behaviors would you recommend to build trust? Please share your feedback by leaving a comment.

15 Comments on “25 Ways to Build Trust at Work

  1. Hi, thanks for this thought-provoking list. I like the way many of them relate to the power of humility and the idea of servant leadership. I´d add two suggestions, which were mentioned by O´Brien (2001) when writing about leaders in high-performance organisations: “Show trust in others” and “Don´t be afraid to ask for help”.

    • Great insights Chris. I’m a proponent of servant leadership and believe it’s the best way to build trust with people. Your two additions are fantastic!

  2. I like that you rattle these off so quickly and yet each one could be a post of its own. Well said, Randy!

    • Thanks for your comments Skip. They may be easy to list, but as we know, they can be much harder to implement!

    • Thank you Jon. Even though these seem like commonsense actions, they aren’t always common place.

      Always appreciate your feedback,


  3. Great list and all about servant leadership. I would add one from the Scout Law, you have itemized most of these, “be obedient”! We must respect authority and follow directives to be trustworthy (# 1 of the Scout Law).

    • Hi Jeff,

      That is an excellent addition! I believe that learning to be a good follower is essential to becoming a good leader.


    • Building trust is hard work because it takes intentional effort. Thanks for your comments!


  4. Agree with all of these and I like the concept of servant leadership. I find that communicating the broad context of the work environment and the implications for staff – ahead of time and when you are NOT talking “restructuring” – is helpful. Linked with the one re “asking for help” is showing how people make a difference, especially when presented with a challenge.

    • Sharing the context or the “why” behind decisions is a key way to build trust. Thanks for adding that one Amanda!


  5. Great list… it seems simple, but not that easy to practice! Truly, trust, humility and integrity are basic tenets of teamwork and leadership.

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