Trust On Teams: How To Tell If You Can Trust Someone


Trust is the foundation of building strong teams at work, so how good are you at judging who is trustworthy? Do you sometimes pick up cues and ignore them – only to realize later the cues told you someone was not worthy of your trust? If you were to compete with a dog on “reading” who is trustworthy, who would win? Odds are the dog would get the gold medal. Dogs are intuitive and read your emotions extremely well because their life depends on it. The good news is that dogs are reading some of the same things that you are capable of reading to judge trustworthiness in others. 


It is said that trust is the currency of the new economy, which means being known as a trustworthy team member or leader is one of the most important ways to boost your career, happiness and overall job satisfaction. Trust does not happen instantly on teams; it is earned over time with consistent behavior. If trust is consistently broken, then it is difficult to earn or restore. This is why it is important to handle trust like a rare and precious pearl. Good things happen when you work with people you trust. Likewise, good things happen when you earn the reputation for being a trustworthy team member. It creates a positive environment where things are possible. You are less stressed and more relaxed. 


As we work with leaders and teams across the nation “trust” is the trait that people most often say they value. People prefer to work with people who have their backs in good and bad times. So, over time we have collected what we call the five building blocks of trust. You can use these building blocks to determine why you trust some people on your team and hesitate with others. While you are at it, conduct a self-awareness checkup to determine if others view you as trustworthy.

1. Be reliable and dependable. Do you know someone who is reliable “some” of the time? Do you trust them? The answer is most likely a resounding “no”. It’s like missing the target in the game of Cornhole; hitting the hole ever once in a while will not make you a champion. Daily you demonstrate if you can be trusted by being consistently reliable and dependable. If you say you are going to do something, then do it. If you say you will be on time, be on time. If you commit to learning a new skill by a certain time, dive in and learn it. Consistency earns trust. People who are reliable “some” of the time do earn reputations. Certainly, hiccups will happen from time to time, but you can protect your reputation by being consistently reliable.

2. Be transparent. Multiple studies show transparency is the number-one factor that determines happiness in the workplace and it is a key ingredient in trust building. People thrive when they understand the organization’s vision and hear from leaders on a regular basis about drivers impacting projects and goals. Likewise, teams function better when members are open with one another about what they are doing to achieve goals and obstacles they face. Keep in mind that how people judge transparency is not the same across the board. Some people must “see” actions to perceive transparency. Others must “read” or “hear” to perceive transparency. A smaller group must “feel” or “do” to perceive transparency.

3. Be competent. When you sign on for a job or team assignment, deliver what you pledged to deliver. Better yet, overdeliver whenever possible. Be clear about your skills and capabilities to fulfill an assignment. If you discover you are missing some skills needed to fulfill the job, say so but pledge to get those skills or the assistance necessary to fulfill the goals. Of course, always keep your word.

4. Manage your emotional state. Self-awareness is considered to be the cornerstone of high Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and also plays an important role in developing your professional brand as a trustworthy person. Self-aware people are able to manage their emotions which translates into predictability and trust. Studies show that negative emotions greatly reduce your capacity to trust. Therefore, it is desirable to learn how not be easily triggered by others or stressful situations. Learn how to manage your emotional state and develop skills to help others manage theirs, as well. When you are able to manage your emotions, you will earn trust and respect for your judgment.

5. Assume Positive Intention. There is a saying that if you want to have friends, then learn to be a good friend. The same goes with trust. If you want to be trusted, then learn to trust others. This is not easy if you have been burned by someone in the past, but it is the healthiest choice for you. Once someone proves without a doubt they are not trustworthy, then you can make a balanced decision on how to proceed in that relationship. By assuming the positive intention of others, you release yourself from being “triggered” when others disappoint or miscommunicate. Happiness is contagious, but so is negativity. Assuming positive intention protects you from being bombarded with negative thoughts and helps you keep stress levels to a minimum.


Studies consistently show employees perform their best when they work with leaders they trust. Conversely, leaders can achieve more with team members who do what they say they will do – whether or not the leader is around. With trust, great things can be accomplished, and work can be a joy. Without trust, work can easily become a miserable destination full of stress and despair. Choose joy. Focus on being a trustworthy person and good things will follow you.

Other Leadership Articles:

Words That Create Walls – The Impact of Negative Vs. Positive Words

The Best Media Spokespersons – What They Do Differently

3 Tips For Taming The “Meeting Monsters”

Forgiveness: Restoring Workplace Relationships


Gail lives on a Texas ranch with her family, five talented horses, one very cute donkey and an entertaining pack of dogs, cats and chickens! We support a horse therapy program for people with disabilities, as well as local animal shelters that rescue abandoned dogs and cats.

Benchmark has consulted with and coached leaders and associates from all 50 USA states and more than 25 countries. The Benchmark team provides award-winning leadership and communication strategies to Fortune 500 groups so they can achieve their business goals. We provide consulting, training and coaching services in: leadership development, storytelling / presentations, reputation management, crisis response, media skills, stakeholder engagement, effective communications, public speaking and soft skills training.