Building trust

Building trust

Trust is the essential ingredient for successful teamwork. How can we avoid misunderstandings and build strong professional relationships?

Do the preparation task first. Then read the article and do the exercises.


Successful business requires collaboration and teamwork. For team relationships to work well, we need high levels of trust. But how we build trust can differ from person to person, culture to culture. Becoming aware of this can help us see how to improve trust with the people we work with.

When Valeria first met her international clients, she tried to bond with them by telling them about her family and her parenting style. She showed them photos of her children on her phone. Her clients felt that her behaviour was unprofessional and it was difficult for them to trust her.  

During a team-building exercise, employees at a British firm were asked to share some personal facts. Kelly wanted to make a good impression on her new colleagues. She talked about how she was the top student of her year at high school and how she won a scholarship to university. The following day her colleagues spoke to each other about how uncomfortable they felt about her boasting. 

On the first day of a course, trainer David aimed to reassure his new trainees that they were in good hands. He talked enthusiastically about the big corporations he had previously worked in and the famous clients he had trained. He mentioned the good feedback he'd received and showed the results he was able to provide for his clients. The participants on the training course found this information boring and irrelevant. They wanted him to begin the training and not waste time talking about his previous achievements.    

Why did this happen? 

There are many ways of building trust, and the approach we choose might depend on the relationship we are building, the culture we are used to and our personal preferences. However, if the methods we choose do not match the expectations of the people around us, it can lead to misunderstandings and negative assessments.

Let's consider different approaches to building trust. Author and speaker Richard Barrett suggests that there are two main components of trust: character and competence. One way of building trust is to show that we are caring, fair, open and honest human beings. In other words, we can build trust by showing our character. Another way to build trust is by letting others know that we are capable, experienced and have achieved excellent results. This way of building trust emphasises our competence. 

It can be a useful exercise to analyse specific work relationships in terms of the character/competence model. You might think about the type of trust your relationship has and the type of trust your relationship lacks, in order to see how you can develop. Many of us use both approaches, depending on the context. For example, in a job interview, we might focus on establishing trust by demonstrating our competence through work experience. When we are working within a team, we might prioritise showing our character to form close professional relationships. By becoming aware of the context and how our conversation partners are responding to our trust-building efforts, we can adapt the way we build trust to better suit them.

When working at new professional relationships, it is important to remember that there is no one correct way to build trust. Making quick judgements about the speaker, like Valeria's clients, Kelly's new colleagues and David's trainees did, could stop trust developing and damage our chances of forming positive relationships. Instead, if we assume the best intentions behind what is being said and are generous in our judgements of other people, we create positive conditions for building trust at work.

Task 1

Task 2


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Submitted by Jasminetea on Tue, 25/06/2024 - 16:45

  • After reading, I know that the approach to build trust depends on the context of each conversations. There are 2 ways to develop trust: showing character and showing experience. The wrong ways of building people’s trust can damage the relationship.
  • I also think being honesty plays an inevitable part in relationship. It is perhaps because only real love can make people easily express their emotions, as well as form a long-lasting relationship
  • I wonder how to blend in a new groups of people. In other words, I have a trouble in being harmony and friendly with other people in a new environment such as clubs, grades and other communal environments. It is one of my lack of social skills

Submitted by on Thu, 09/11/2023 - 11:49


My preferred way of building trust at work is based on character components. I like to be fair, open, and honest with other people. Those are the universal values that all employees should promote.

Submitted by Saruur on Tue, 13/06/2023 - 14:38


I think the best approach we can build trust is our character when we are new at the workplace every person looks at your character before interacting if sees something bad with your behavior like arrogance it may take a bad perception. so that you need to control your character before everything maybe you encounter some bad people but the important one is to build trust.

Submitted by janie.lu114 on Wed, 22/03/2023 - 15:07


I think the most important thing to build trust is time. The time will answer for both character and competence.

Submitted by FeliipeAndresA on Wed, 18/01/2023 - 02:15


I like to talk about our main goals to achieve, and how can we all participate to reach those goals.

Submitted by Cherry Aye Mya… on Sat, 19/11/2022 - 03:38


The way to build trust is to keep your word, speak honestly and avoid talking bad about others. People will trust you if they believe that you are not the person who will make them to get into trouble.

Submitted by Jen131 on Sat, 17/09/2022 - 15:17


I believe it is important to show our character to our coworkers. I am usually not easily impressed by their competence alone. Knowing each other better is quite helpful to build trust and effective communications. We need to make sure that we are fair, open, generous, kind and honest coworker by showing our own character as well as our competence. Basically, We need to have a balance between showing competence/character model and use both of them to effectively build trust depending on the context.

Submitted by Nandar Su Hlaing on Tue, 23/08/2022 - 15:00


Everyone has own way of building trust, I always do these things speak honestly, keep promise what I said, helping people when they need. I believe these made me trusty person in my workplace or anywhere.

Submitted by tereachiu on Tue, 24/05/2022 - 16:05


Personal experience of building trust at work is priority to show competence and collaboration for team members then taking time to get understood from characters by being genuine and transparent person.

Submitted by jyoti Chaudhary on Sat, 21/05/2022 - 10:07


I'm a travel agent and I have 5years of experience in the same industry. during my job, I learn a lot of things and I learn how to build trust for our clients. it is very important to give instant response to our client message, email, and calls because every people like an immediate response to whatever they need. and you can show your experience. for me, I share my feedback video with my clients, and according to my hard work and my experience, every client trusts me.