15 Common Myths About Building Trust — Frank Sonnenberg Online


  1. A sound reputation always leads to trust. A reputation is helpful in building trust, but it’s only a start. Most people validate your reputation by comparing it to their actual experience. If your reputation matches their experience, you’re home free. If not, building trust may be an uphill climb.
  2. Trust doesn’t always have to be earned. Some folks believe that having power, wealth, or status entitles them to be trusted. Nothing can be further from the truth. Trust is earned.
  3. Trust can be rushed. There’s no such thing as trust at first sight. People will test you in small ways before trusting you outright. Trust is built when honorable behavior is consistently performed, over a period of time. When your conduct becomes predictable, faith — the highest level of trust — is born.
  4. Talking a good game leads to trust. You send a message by what you say and what you do. If words aren’t supported with consistent actions, they will ring hollow.
  5. Trust exists between two people. But if you’re hurtful to someone (and the word gets out), others may think that if you did it to them, it “might be me one day.”
  6. You either trust someone or you don’t. Trust isn’t an either-or proposition — it falls somewhere along a continuum. Trust is based on factors such as honesty, integrity, fairness, reliability, dependability, and transparency in a relationship. In addition, there are different degrees of trust. While you might trust a customer service employee to help you with a problem, you might not trust that individual to manage your finances or care for your children.
  7. We all develop trust the same way. Prior relationships and personal bias may influence the way you view and/or develop trust. For example, if you believe that people are trustworthy, you’ll probably manage relationships differently than if you think people are out to get you.
  8. It’s acceptable to break small promises, but not big ones. Some people believe that it’s acceptable to break small promises. That’s simply not true. For example, if you continually show up late, people may wonder — if they can’t count on you to be timely, can they depend on you in general?
  9. All mistakes produce equal damage to a relationship. There are two kinds of mistakes, accidental and intentional. Despite our best efforts, there’s nothing we can do to prevent accidents, as they are by their very nature out of our control. The second type of mistake, however, is deliberate. Intentional acts weaken trust.
  10. Breaching trust always kills a relationship. For the most part, people are forgiving if you make an honest mistake or act out of character on occasion. But when improper actions — such as lying, cheating, or stealing — are repeated, it can significantly impact your relationship.
  11. Once an apology is made, all is forgiven. An apology should be heartfelt — rather than an attempt to smooth ruffled feathers. But even if you offer a heartfelt apology, it may still require time and effort to reestablish trust. Moreover, if you repeat the act, you’re indicating that you were more interested in creating peace than in changing your ways.
  12. If I trust someone, you’ll probably trust him too. Building trust is personal. Just because you have a trusting relationship with someone doesn’t guarantee that I will.
  13. Trust lasts forever. Trust takes a long time to develop, but it can be lost in the blink of an eye.
  14. Repairing trust requires the same effort as building it. It takes a lot more effort to rebuild trust than to establish it from the start. Therefore, think twice before you act. As the saying goes, “You can’t un-ring a bell.”
  15. Everyone stands an equal chance of securing trust. Some people find it easier to build trust than others do. Why, you ask? They set high standards of behavior and adhere to them. They prove that they’re worthy of your trust instead of thinking that trust occurs by magic. There is magic in trust. But earning it requires more than illusion.

How Do You Feel About Building Trust?

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Additional Reading:
Do You Deserve to Be Trusted?
The Values on Which Trust Rests
Why Do You Trust Some People and Mistrust Others?
Trust Me…Trust Me Not

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