Trust is a crucial ingredient in relationships at work and

at home. Trust is integral to a happy marriage, to good relationships between parents and children, and among friends.  Trust enables managers to focus on the longer view rather than micromanaging the daily behavior of employees.

Often the T word is invoked when it is absent or in short supply.  Leaders identify it as the missing ingredient in higher performance.  But is trust something you do, or something that is the result, the reward that is generated by what you do?

Trust as something you do
You might not know whether the other person is going to come through for you, but when your default position is trust you give him or her the opportunity to demonstrate that they will follow through as they said they would.  There are certain personality types that tend to trust more people more readily.

If you want to build an environment of trust, you discuss your expectations up front (so the other person doesn’t have to guess what you want).  Then you back off, resist the urge to hover or micromanage, and let them show you what they can and will do.

You might find trust easier to give when you have no track record of disappointment with a particular individual.  It’s important to acknowledge that over time it’s likely that you will be disappointed by another person’s behavior.  You might be disappointed by almost everyone at some point or another.  But if you are determined to establish a habit of trust you will provide them with new opportunities to come through for you.

Trust bumps into intelligence or at least common sense when an individual lets you down over and over again.  You can choose to have a “number” after which all bets are off with you trust-wise, a three strikes rule or something along that line.  Or you can try to discover the other person’s intentions.  If they are trying to meet expectations but failing they might need training or some other support from you.

Trust as something you earn
You can’t tell someone to trust you and be assured that you’ll have free reign to do whatever you want.  That other person might be inherently trusting of other people, but regardless of whether or not you have been given the benefit of the doubt from the outset, if you want to be trusted you have to be trustworthy.

What are you doing when that person isn’t looking?  How are you handling their expectations?  Are you working to demonstrate that you can and you will?  If you consistently work to meet or even exceed expectations you are contributing to an environment of trust

Some individuals will try to determine your intentions in order to decide whether to trust you again if you’ve fouled up in a particular situation.  You might get a second shot, even if you have not fulfilled the requirements of a trust relationship with them.  But you might not, especially if they believe that your infraction was serious, dangerous, or intentional.

You can only control your own behavior.  So if you want to establish more trust at work and/or at home, you need to work on both sides of the trust relationship.  You need to give it, and you need to do what’s necessary to earn it.