Building Trust in Interpersonal Relationships

Sections of this topic

    Critical Ingredients for Building and Maintaining Trust
    Various Perspectives on Building Trust

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    Critical Ingredients for Building and Maintaining

    © Copyright Carter McNamara,
    MBA, PhD

    There are numerous ingredients that must be present for there to be strong
    and sustained trust in interpersonal relationships and in the workplace, for example, do
    what you say you are going to do, always be clear and consistent in your assignments
    and say what you mean. Different people together could probably generate one
    long list. However, here are five of the most important ingredients.


    Authenticity has become a very popular concept lately, especially as we hear
    — and try to follow — a myriad of suggestions about how we “should be”
    in our relationships and our work. Too many of us try to be something that we
    aren’t and so we inadvertently become inauthentic. People can sense when someone
    is not being true to themselves or others. The concept of authenticity has become
    so idealized and romanticized that it appears that a truly authentic person
    would almost be that perfect person with no faults at all. Instead, perhaps
    authenticity is best described as being honest with ourselves and others. See


    Empathy is the ability to relate to, and understand, others and sometimes to
    even feel what they feel — to “walk in their shoes.” Empathy is not
    the same as sympathy, which is feeling pity or sorrow for another in discomfort.
    You can empathize with someone without feeling sympathy for them. People trust
    other people when they understand each other. Skills in empathy are the basis
    for accurate and ongoing understanding between people. See Empathy.


    It’s not enough to be real and have the ability to fully relate to others.
    You also have to hear them, to really grasp and understand what others are trying
    to convey to you. Without truly listening to others, you will not have their
    trust. As much as we value skills in listening, too many of us don’t have those
    skills — we listen more to ourselves than to others. There are some basic guidelines
    that, if followed, can make a huge positive impact on your listening skills.
    See Listening.

    Respectful Feedback

    Ongoing, successful communication is the foundation for building trust. That
    communication should go beyond sharing information about the weather. It should
    include our opinions and suggestions about the opinions and suggestions of others.
    That feedback can be shared in very respectful ways that sustain the respect
    and trust between participants. Similar to skills in listening, several guidelines,
    if followed, can greatly enhance skills in sharing feedback. See Feedback.


    Ethical behavior is always striving to do what’s morally right for yourself
    and others, particularly when times are tough and we’re challenged to cut corners
    to get things done quickly and cheaply. When people damage the trust between
    them, it’s usually because one or more of them have done something hurtful —
    they’ve done something that they would not want done to themselves. Many would
    argue that a cornerstone of being ethical is the golden rule — to do unto others
    as you would have them do unto you. See Ethics.

    Various Perspectives on Building Trust

    How To Build Trust
    Keeping an Open Line of Communication with Your Employees
    Trust Building
    to Build Trust

    To build Trust at Work

    Bridging We-They Gaps
    Bringing Values to Life

    For the Category of Interpersonal Skills:

    To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

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