The Number 1 Way You Erode Trust Without Even Knowing It

Trust DissolvingBetrayal. Cheating. Embezzlement. Dishonesty. These kinds of extreme behaviors are what most people think about when it comes to breaking trust. There’s no doubt those will do the trick, but for the vast majority of people, these types of incidents will be few and far between, if they even happen at all.

No, the ways you lose trust with other people is more like the way soil erodes a hillside. Little by little, slow and steady over a long period of time, the soil breaks down and falls away. Then seemingly out of nowhere, we’re surprised with a major landslide when the ground finally gives way.

That’s the way it works with trust. We erode it over a period of time through careless and thoughtless behaviors. Those behaviors seem innocuous to us, but others may perceive them as being trust busters. Chief among those irresponsible behaviors is being late. Arguably, it’s the number one way we erode trust without even knowing it.

Why does being habitually late erode trust?

  1. It can cause people to question your dependability—Trustworthy people are reliable. They honor their commitments by doing what they say they’re going to do. Being on time shows you’re accountable and can be counted on to follow-through on a commitment.
  2. It can cause people to question your integrity—If you repeatedly commit to being somewhere at a particular time and then show up late, it plants seeds of doubt in the minds of others that you likely won’t uphold other commitments you make. Being on time demonstrates you are a person of your word.
  3. It causes people to feel disrespected—Habitual lateness sends the message to others that their time isn’t as valuable as yours. Others are inconvenienced while they sit around waiting for you to show up, and once you finally arrive, everyone has to work harder and faster in the remaining time.

Occasionally being late is no big deal. It happens to all of us and usually our friends and colleagues understand and react graciously. But as this video illustrates, your colleagues may be depending on you to be on time, and if you’re late, it just might cost them big time.

7 Comments on “The Number 1 Way You Erode Trust Without Even Knowing It

  1. Pingback: The Number 1 Way You Erode Trust Without Even Knowing It | HENRY KOTULA

  2. Agree, Randy. Our simple, bad habits create big slides in trust. We need to be more self-aware. Just like being late, focused on your digital devices rather than looking people in the eyes is another. Time to connect in a timely, undistracting way to build trust. Thanks! Jon

  3. LOL, yes the video does illustrate this. I have a “thing” with punctuality. I believe it’s important and you capture my reason why with these words: “Habitual lateness sends the message to others that their time isn’t as valuable as yours.” If I can make the effort to be on time, the person I’m meeting should too.
    I agree that it erodes trust over time. You eventually come to know the person just won’t be on time and you get used to it.That’s a shame.

    • Hi Lori,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. It’s often the little things that cause us to stumble.

      Best regards,


  4. The erosion of trust is a slippery slope. One way to prevent the erosion is by employing core values to help the group be trustworthy. Another approach is to appoint someone as a watch dog, may be the jefe, to evaluate decisions and actions in light of trust. Ultimately, management is responsible for maintaining a culture of trust.

    • Those are great suggestions Karl. It’s always helpful to have a designated role on the team who keeps an eye on how the team is functioning.

      Best regards,


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