Can’t trust, won’t trust? It’s your problem, not theirs

Will the people you work with stab you in the back? If you can’t trust them, it’s your problem not theirs.  Check out this article to see how you can deal with people you don’t trust.

Are your colleagues lying to you? Do you trust them? We all want to work in a place where people trust each other, but in order for this to happen we need to understand something about how trust works.

When we talk to clients about whether they trust people we get one of two responses: –

  1. “I trust people when they prove they can be trusted.”


  1. “I trust people until they let me down.”

Either way, you’re being reactive. Ultimately, what you’re saying is that whether I trust you or not depends on the behaviour of the other person.

This is clearly not unreasonable. The problem, though, is that in an organisation it creates a powerful downward spiral. Think about it:-

  • I trust you until you let me down.
  • I tell Jeremy that you let me down.
  • Now Jeremy doesn’t trust you.
  • You notice that Jeremy is avoiding you, so…
  • you start watching him, and warn Emma…
  • who warns me that Jeremy is up to something…

Before you know it, no-one trusts anyone any more, and they can’t even remember why.

What’s going on here?

Nobody’s taking responsibility for maintaining and building trust. If we trust each other, that’s fine. But the moment you let me down, or (more likely) the moment I think that you let me down, I have a choice. I can either put you on my list of ‘people who can’t be trusted’, or I can take responsibility and talk to you about it.

But that’s the last thing people want to do! It takes real courage to tell another person that something they’ve done makes you feel you can’t trust them.

For an organisation to build a culture based on trust, each person has to accept that if “I” don’t trust you, that’s my problem. You may or may not be trustworthy; but I have to be willing to deal with the situation.

And there may be all kinds of different things going on here…..

  1. There may be a misunderstanding, or a miscommunication
  2. There may be personal or professional issues in the background
  3. They may even be genuinely untrustworthy

But the only way to build a culture of trust is for each individual to be persuaded to take responsibility for creating that culture, brick by brick.

It’s a big ask, but once you can see that this is the only way to do it, there are all sorts of techniques for building trust in your organisation.  And if you would like to find out more about how you tackle lack of trust call us on 01865 881056.