How I Have Broken Trust

Through my prior experience as a coach (I am currently in an individual contributor) I found many ways to break trust amongst the folks that I coached. Granted, it is my belief that trust is not a binary thing. Positions you hold, reputation, relationship with the person you are coach, these all lend to a certain trust fuel tank fill level in a relationship. Break the trust too much and you will find yourself sitting on empty, and the trust tank is tough to refill once it is empty. This post is a quick guide on how to break trust with folks and empty that tank quickly. Avoid these pitfalls as best as you kind, and find your trust fuel tank full in your relationships.

Do as I say, not as I do. If you are asking folks to do things or practice things, or build skills in things for which you yourself do not practice, or for which you would not be willing to practice, then you are asking for trust trouble. Everyone does things differently and operates differently, but do not ask folks that you coach to do things that you yourself would not be willing to roll up your sleeves and do. Nobody likes a hypocrite.

Do not be reliable. Be late for meetings, be irrationally delayed on responses, or do not show at all. Constantly ask to reschedule and then be late for that meeting as well. There is no faster way to lose someone’s trust in my opinion than not being in a place you say you are going to be, or being absurdly delayed in responses for those you coach or mentor. Nothing communicates to a person more that they matter when you are an ultra reliable human. Now, I am not saying the occasional slip will not happen, we all get sick, or encounter emergencies that require us to reschedule This should be the exception, however, and not the rule.

Provide long sermons and diatribes when coaching. Be a crappy listener and interrupt. Nobody wants, or deserves, your sermon. Regardless of how smart you are, you will not always have the answers. Sometimes direct reports do not want the answer in the moment, just a trusting relationship where they can share their perspective. People being coached want to be heard. Please, take the time to listen to what your mentee or direct report has to say, and what they thing. This is the area in which I suffered the most as a coach. While folks do need to be pushed sometimes into areas in which they need development, they should have a say in what they want to be coached in. I promise, once your mentor or direct reports see that you are invested in them as a person they will be way more receptive in the areas in which they may need to be pushed. Put the time in.

Take the time to really look over the three ways in which I feel folks most often break trust. Trust me, as I am truly a subject matter expert when it comes to breaking trust using the above tried and true methods above. I will part with one final piece of knowledge to fill that trust fuel tank. Apologize when you have made a mistake. Without excuses, just apologize. I am sorry that I missed our meeting, I will reschedule. Just remember, if you make too many mistakes you may find your trust fuel tank runnin’ on empty.

Author: Ted Henry Curtis

Support Delivery Manager. Passion for process improvement, standardization, and simplification.

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