How to Build Trust with Your Coworkers
Who do you trust at work? Do you trust your manager, team members, the HR Department, or no one? We recently ran a survey on LinkedIn and found that only 11% of the respondents trusted their managers. More than half of the respondents indicated that they did not trust anybody at work.
It may seem easier for you to construct social barriers in the workplace. After all, if you never let your guard down, you won’t get hurt right? However, the reality is that one third of your life is spent at work, where you have to closely interact with your team. Don’t rob yourself of the opportunity to build rewarding relationships with like-minded individuals, just because they’re your coworkers!
Not being able to trust your team—and constantly walking on eggshells around them—is incredibly stressful. It will have a negative impact on your job satisfaction and happiness. Moreover, collaboration on work projects becomes an uphill battle when trust is absent. Your team’s productivity will likely plummet.
So how can you build trust with your coworkers? Here are 3 tips to create a positive and healthy work environment:
1. Be Competent and of Good Character
Trust in the workplace is built on the twin pillars of competence and character. Firstly, competence is key. Your manager and teammates need to know they can count on you to perform the appointed tasks well. If you’re constantly submitting slipshod work or missing deadlines, how can you expect them to trust you with upcoming projects?
Therefore, never over-promise and under-deliver. Be clear about what you can achieve within a certain timeframe—and actually do what you say you'll do. You’ll gain a reputation of following through on your commitments that way.
Besides demonstrating competence, you need to act with integrity. Be honest and transparent, as a matter of principle. Do not lie to your coworkers or your manager out of a desire for self-protection. If you make a mistake at work, own up to it without resorting to excuses. Apologise and try your best to rectify the error. By taking full responsibility for your actions, you will earn respect from your team.
2. Master the Art of Communication
Internal communications is not the sole province of the communications department. The responsibility does not only fall on your manager, but also on every single team member. That includes you!
In your communications, be it written or verbal, maintain a high level of professionalism. Practise active listening during meetings; resist the urge to interrupt or multitask when others are presenting. Valuing your coworkers’ opinions is part and parcel of showing respect.
Furthermore, it is important to express gratitude to your coworkers for their contributions. Do not hesitate to acknowledge work well done. Your words of appreciation will help foster a culture of recognition—a simple “thank you” goes a long way!
3. Extend Trust to Others First
Building trust with your coworkers is a gradual process over several months; it does not happen overnight. If you want them to trust you, you have to be willing to trust them first. This means not assuming the worst of your coworkers—and misinterpreting their words and actions.
If a certain individual’s behaviour rubs you the wrong way, consider different perspectives. Are you jumping to conclusions too quickly? Make an effort to clarify with him or her—perhaps you may have misunderstood the entire situation.
Refrain from adopting a suspicious attitude towards others by default, as it will only perpetuate a vicious cycle of distrust within the team. Be gracious and kind!
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