10 Ways You'll Erode Trust

You're not answering phone calls, not returning E-mails, or over-promising—all quick ways to kill trust.

By SHARE

One of the most important characteristics of a truly successful person is the ability to inspire and maintain trust. Many otherwise decent people erode trust by slipping into these habits:

1. Make a commitment to another person and later switch your position without giving that person timely and explicit notice. You may have a good reason for that switch, but that won't matter much if the other person feels betrayed.

2. Over-promise and under-deliver. Many a rising star has fallen because others relied upon loosely made promises and were embarrassed when those were not fulfilled.

3. Don't return phone calls. That's the silent way of saying, "You don't count." If you're busy, leave a quick message to buy time for a more lengthy discussion, but get back with the person.

4. Don't return E-mails. Our technology gives us new and faster ways to show our indifference.

5. Inflate your words of praise. Your words are your currency. Why devalue them?

6. Take credit for the work of others. Do you really think they won't notice?

7. Don't admit mistakes. This may be both a denial of responsibility and of reality. Gain credibility by promptly "fessing up" to your blunders.

8. Fail to provide reasonable support to others. The resentment this creates may last for years.

9. Be hypocritical. The gap between your words and your actions can be detected in nanoseconds.

10. Deceive. This is a giant trust-killer. All of us have occasionally strayed from the truth, either by outright lying or through deception. Even well-intentioned lies possess the potential to explode and damage credibility. Ethicist Michael Josephson asks, "How many times do you have to lie to be a liar?" One time can be sufficient to sink a career.

Michael Wade writes Execupundit.com, an eclectic combination of management advice, observations, and links. A partner with the Phoenix firm of Sanders Wade Rodarte Consulting Inc., he has advised private and public-sector organizations for more than 30 years.

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