Trust: You cannot have a healthy relationship without it. And yet, virtually all of us can bring to mind a scenario where our trust has been broken.
But how do we develop trust in the first place? Can trust that’s been broken be rebuilt?

This article explores how to build trust in a variety of relationships, including practical tips and activities that build trust.

Please note that the scientific literature on building trust is limited. Plenty of research exists examining the importance of trust and what it is, but that research doesn’t tend to lay out practical steps for building trust. Therefore, much of the research supporting the following article is from web sources, not journal articles.

If you wish to learn more, our Positive Relationships Masterclass© is a complete, science-based training template for practitioners and coaches that contains all the materials you’ll need to help your clients improve their personal and professional relationships, ultimately enhancing their mental wellbeing.

1. Be True to Your Word and Follow Through With Your Actions

The point of building trust is for others to believe what you say. Keep in mind, however, that building trust requires not only keeping the promises you make but also not making promises you’re unable to keep.

Keeping your word shows others what you expect from them, and in turn, they’ll be more likely to treat you with respect, developing further trust in the process.

2. Learn How to Communicate Effectively With Others

Poor communication is a major reason why relationships break down. Good communication includes being clear about what you have or have not committed to and what has been agreed upon.

Building trust is not without risk. It involves allowing both you and others taking risks to prove trustworthiness. To navigate this, effective communication is key. Without it, you may find the messages you’ve intended to send aren’t the messages that are received.

3. Remind Yourself That It Takes Time to Build and Earn Trust

Building trust is a daily commitment. Don’t make the mistake of expecting too much too soon. In order to build trust, first take small steps and take on small commitments and then, as trust grows, you will be more at ease with making and accepting bigger commitments. Put trust in, and you will generally get trust in return.

4. Take Time to Make Decisions and Think Before Acting Too Quickly

Only make commitments that you are happy to agree to. Have the courage to say “no,” even when it disappoints someone. If you agree to something and can’t follow through, everyone involved is worse off.

Be clear about what you have on your plate, and keep track of your commitments. Being organized is a necessary part of building trust with family, friends, and colleagues. It enables you to make a clear decision as to whether to agree to requests of your time and energy.

5. Value the Relationships That You Have—and Don’t Take Them for Granted

Trust often results from consistency. We tend to have the most trust in people who are there for us consistently through good times and bad. Regularly showing someone that you’re there for them is an effective way to build trust.

6. Develop Your Team Skills and Participate Openly

When you take an active role in a team and make contributions, people are more likely to respect and trust you. It’s also imperative when building trust in a team to show your willingness to trust others.

Being open and willing to make contributions and to engage demonstrates this. In other words, take what others say into consideration, show that you are listening actively, suggest your thoughts and feedback in a respectful way, and demonstrate that you are willing to be part of the team.

7. Always Be Honest

The message you convey should always, always be the truth. If you are caught telling a lie, no matter how small, your trustworthiness will be diminished.

8. Help People Whenever You Can

Helping another person, even if it provides no benefit to you, builds trust. Authentic kindness helps to build trust.

9. Don’t Hide Your Feelings

Being open about your emotions is often an effective way to build trust. Furthermore, if people know that you care, they are more likely to trust you.

Emotional intelligence plays a role in building trust. Acknowledging your feelings, learning the lessons that prevail, and taking productive action means that you won’t deny reality—this is the key to building trust.

10. Don’t Always Self-Promote

Acknowledgment and appreciation play an important role in building trust and maintaining good relationships. Recognizing and appreciating the efforts of others shows your talent for leadership and teamwork and increases the trust others have in you.

On the other hand, if people don’t demonstrate appreciation for a good deed, they appear selfish. Selfishness destroys trust.

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