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Trust: not easy to build, but easily broken

We all know that trust is critical to a good relationship – whether it’s personal or professional.

But what about how to build that trust in the first place?

Well, there are no shortcuts I’m afraid.

Building trust requires a foundation of honesty and integrity and a concerted investment in time – from powerful moments to daily increments.

This means it’s not achieved through one big gesture, but the way we act every single day.

Research tells us that we can build trust by sharing valuable information and resources and relinquishing our grip on control.

We can also practice letting go of responsibility, requesting and acting on people’s input, and communicating openly about issues that matter.

For example, if you’re an employer or manager, could you share more of the reasoning behind your decision-making with your team?

Perhaps you could regularly ask them for input into important decisions, and come back to explain the final outcomes?

Or on a more personal level, it might be regular check-ins with a friend to ask how they are feeling, or sending them some of your favourite books to loan during lockdown.

Doing this creates a ‘we’re all in this together’ sentiment and shows our vulnerability.

On the flipside, there are ways to build trust by not saying or doing certain things.

For example, not accusing others of ill intentions, nor shaming others. Particularly in the workplace, you can refrain from reprimanding people for making mistakes and micromanaging.

And it goes without saying: never share stories told to you in confidence.

You know that saying “Your secret’s safe with me… and my best friend”? It might be a funny as a meme, but in reality it’s a quick ticket to permanently damaging someone’s trust in you.

One handy way to remember the key factors to building trust daily is with Dr. John Gottman’s ATTUNE method:

  • Provide your full Attention
  • Turn Toward others
  • Demonstrate Tolerance
  • Show Understanding
  • Provide Non-defensive responses and
  • Show Empathy.

Here’s an interesting fact to finish up with: when we feel friendly and trusting feelings toward others, it has a physiological effect on our body.

It improves the subtle arrhythmia that occurs with every breath we take – otherwise known as the vagal nerve. This helps calm our heart rate, regulate our glucose and cardiovascular health, sharpen our focus at work and moderate our emotions.

Louise Gilbert teaches individuals, teams and leaders how to build social connection and be better together by equipping them with the practical tools to embrace strong, meaningful and respectful relationships.

Could your workplace benefit from one of our tailored programs? Let’s chat – send me an email at

Or contact me here for a one on one chat.


Founder & Director

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