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Do You Trust Me?

Learn the ins and outs of building trust, believing in others and spotting the marks of a disingenuous dealer.
October 18, 2006

One of my senior-year quotes in my high school yearbook was about how I'd rather trust someone and be wrong than never to have taken the risk. More than 23 years have passed since I selected that saying, and I still believe it rings true. The good news is, my gut instincts are generally pretty strong and lead me to great people; the bad news is, even though I'm a bit older and hopefully wiser, I still get burned every now and then.

I'm an optimistic person who truly believes that people want to do the right thing and be successful. But every so often someone proves to be the exception to my rule. Ironically (or maybe not), every time I've experienced a breach of conduct or confidence by a colleague, I was traveling and not in the office when the incident first occurred. I refuse to micromanage fellow seasoned professionals and believe it's impossible and unnecessary to oversee every piece of a successful business--you have to be able to let go and delegate so others can flourish, too.

Trust is an interesting topic because if you tell others you're trustworthy, many people automatically become suspicious. Trust begins at the core, built from the inside out. I always treat my colleagues and clients as if they're trustworthy, and I always try to show them I can be trusted by keeping the promises I make, behaving consistently in my words and actions, and listening to their perspective before making a decision. I try not to take anything personally and always give others the benefit of the doubt.

Here are some of the lessons in trust I've learned over the years:

To grow, you sometimes have to take risks on people, but don't let that scare you off. Even people with great judgment can get fooled some of the time by disingenuous people. But without other people helping you grow and succeed, your company or business idea will never scale.

So do your homework, make the best call you can given the data and facts, and take a chance on a person with a strong moral compass. And if you earn trust from others, you'll be a success. Even more important, you'll be respected, which is one of the most attractive qualities in people--personally and professionally.