How to Build Trust in Business

how to build trust in business

Ten Surefire Ways to Build Trust in Business Within Your Company’s Culture

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”― Ernest Hemingway 

In today’s world, there are many ways for professional people to connect. There’s college alumni groups, communities, and apps built on similar interests or groups of people who work for the same company that shares the same culture and vision. Thanks to technology, people connect from different cities or countries regularly.  There are heaps of personal and professional information about each other all over social networking sites where finding out about a person’s interests can happen within seconds. Whether one knows the person or not, they may feel immediately connected. This may be due to common interest, group affiliation, or a recent social media post in which they both interact. They may even feel like they can trust that person.  According to Webster’s dictionary, the definition of trust is “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.”

It’s not a new phenomenon to share that a good relationship of any kind helps build trust in business. But how to earn trust in a world where we are all moving at a fast pace, interacting more with our mobile devices at times than other humans, discussing the advances of artificial intelligence with impatience, and relying on all types of new technology to work quicker and more efficiently? 

No matter how far technology advances or artificial intelligence grows, personal relationships built on trust and trusting those who we are working within business matters even more. So, what types of behaviors help build trust in business in a world filled with a plethora of information at our fingertips, a variety of ways to meet people, and all kinds of new ways to communicate? Here are ten tips on building trust in today’s world. 

    1. Be Who You Are and Connect Authentically:

      We are all people first and then our profession. People may come into contact with you first because of your area of expertise. Whether it’s a new contact that could be a potential client, an existing client, or a coworker, they want to know they can rely on your knowledge. But more importantly, they want to know who you authentically are. If you’re participating in social media, the intersection of the professional and personal, you are more evident than ever.  It’s essential to be authentic about who you are. If you’ve read a specific book or a particular movie, and it’s appropriate to share, do so. These small details demonstrate what makes you unique and allow others to connect to not only the expert professional but the person you are and acknowledge others to trust in who you are.

    2. Believe in the Expertise:

       There are times when one questions another’s expertise and thinks he or she may know best. For example, when partnering with someone outside your area of expertise, it may be easy to question the craft of the other party, thinking we may know how to approach a specific situation. Develop trust in this instance by asking more questions about the other expert’s thought process of why they came to that conclusion and building upon it. When we partner with others, the whole expertise gets stronger when a group of individuals from various disciplines trust each other. That trust transfers to whatever entity that you are working with or for.

    3. Share Your Vision/Be Transparent:

      Sometimes, all is clear in our inner voices, our internal dialogues, and the vision of what we expect to happen. However, since so much of today’s work is accomplished in teams, it’s beneficial to share the vision you have with coworkers, clients, and partners. Then stick to that vision but if it does change, communicate the change. In my experience, this is critical in a leadership role. If one day a leader shares a specific vision about something small or large and then changes direction without acknowledging the change, the people surrounding that leader may question how much trust they can put into that leadership and their decision making.

    4. Match Actions and Words:

      This advice may seem very simple, but your words and actions need to match to gain trust from business partners.  If you say you’re going to call someone or meet someone at an allocated time, act on it. If you say you’re going to share feedback with a colleague or client about a situation, follow through and give them feedback. These actions allow others to rely on you and know that you are worthy of trust. 

    5. Non-Verbals Communicate in a Big Way:

      Many people may have had the opportunity to travel to a foreign country where you don’t speak the language. However, you have an idea of what the conversation is based on the non-verbal communication occurring. Non-verbals can tell a story about the mood of the discussion. When they don’t match, there is a level of discomfort or even suspicion. When one aligns what they are communicating about and the non-verbal communication, it establishes a level of comfort and trust.

    6. Ask Open and Clarifying Questions:

      There are times in business when people want to wow you with what they know about their field. Or sometimes they may use jargon because it’s part of the company’s internal language. It’s essential not to be afraid to ask questions to understand the discussion and that you grasp what they share. These questions demonstrate that you can trust their information, but…

    7. Admit What You Don’t Know:

      Many incredible experts are sharing advice about their area of expertise, and their field may be something you’re unfamiliar with.  It’s important to admit what you don’t know, but share what is relevant to the conversation or meeting at hand. This allows someone to understand what your connection to their area of expertise is, and builds trust, by not overstating your knowledge.

    8. Give People the Benefit of the Doubt:

      Nobody likes to be doubted or questioned. There are times in a business relationship that we have no idea what another individual may be dealing with personally. So, if there is something that seems off about the person’s work or something has changed in their behavior, build trust by acknowledging that you see the change.  Ask them open-ended questions as to what may be causing this. In my career experience, this has almost always led to a productive conversation. These conversations help that individual with something happening in the workplace or allow them to share a personal struggle that they hoped wasn’t affecting their work life. Ultimately, it contributes to building a relationship built on trust.

    9. Apologize if Warranted:

      Business relationships are part of our daily routines which means that there are times when there may be some miscommunication. Maybe something was said in a harsher tone than it needed to be. It’s important to acknowledge that something may warrant an apology. Be specific about what you are apologizing for or about. Apologies build trust because this demonstrates that you’re invested in the relationship. You are willing to share when all hasn’t gone as well as you wish it did.

    10. Keep Your Word:

      If someone confides in you about a specific business situation, change in their workplace, or something personally affecting them and they ask you to keep private, do so. In today’s work world, there are so many changes taking place for various reasons. These can be attached to highly sensitive organizational changes.  If you can keep this information to yourself, it builds a healthy level of trust with those confiding in you. 


Overall and as a bonus tip, know that trust is a continuum. Every day, we have to continue to earn the trust of our business partners, clients, coworkers, and future clients. If you have won trust from someone who you work with for many years, there’s no guarantee that it lasts. You have to be authentic, transparent continuously, match your actions with your words,  ensure your non-verbal communication is aligned, ask clarifying questions, admit what you don’t know, give people the benefit of the doubt, keep your word and know that it is a continuum. Combining these ten tips allows you to build trust in business and strengthen company culture.

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