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What are some tips for building trust in the workplace?

Can you trust your coworkers?

 Here are five precepts, with five "therefores": 

1. Trust should be intelligent. One who trusts others too quickly is light-minded. (Sir 19:4) Trust should not be naïve or stupid, but bestowed based on proof of trustworthiness. Trust is an earned thing. 

Therefore, observe and appreciate the qualities in your colleagues that show their trustworthiness. 

2.  Trust should be time-tested. When you gain a friend, gain him through testing, and do not trust him hastily. (Sir 6:7). Just as trust is at the heart of friendship, it also takes time and testing.

Therefore, get to know your colleagues. Spend time with them. Find out what makes them tick – what they love and value; what is important and meaningful to them; what person has significantly affected their lives, etc. Team-building exercises are effective because they help people get in touch with one another.

3.  Trust should be defined. It’s essential to make explicit the values that guide the workplace. No ethics = no trust. Good ethics = trust. What are the ethical principles that you propose, decide on and commit to? 

Therefore, go through a joint exercise of brainstorming and declaring your ethical guidelines. For instance: We do not gossip about another colleague. If we have a concern about a colleague, we go directly to him.

4.  Mistrust should be uncovered. It’s silly to assume that suspicions don’t exist or won’t arise. Even in the best of relationships, disagreements and violations take place. Don’t just wait till it happens. Anticipation plus awareness boosts prevention.

Therefore, have an honest discussion about specific, potential roadblocks to trust. List them. Then be on the lookout for them.

5.  Trust should be declared. The Spitzer Center takes work teams through five explicit commitments for increased trust. Number Five is: “I trust you until you give me ample reason to do otherwise, and I will cut you plenty of slack because I realize that, like me, you are not perfect.”

Therefore, starting with the leadership team, express this commitment to one another.

Jim Berlucchi is the executive director of the Spitzer Center for Visionary Leadership