Skip to main content

Why won’t people trust me? – 5 ways to build trust quickly

Why won’t people trust me? – 5 ways to build trust quickly 

In my last blog – I offered two simple ways, to help build trust naturally, and quickly.

I had so many positive responses from people asking for more ideas, that I’ve added 3 more.

I’ve included the first two tips again, to make it easy for those who did not read the first blog – but also, because if you do these two alone, it will positively impact your relationships in every aspect of your life, whether professionally, as friends, or even with family members.   

Whether you’re a manager who wants an employee to make a change, a salesperson who wants that key customer to buy, or a teacher who wants your student to try something new, to some degree you are asking that person to take a risk.  But before they’re likely to take that risk, they need to trust that your offer will be in their best interest. 

The more a person trusts you, the more likely they’ll be to take a risk and act on your idea or request.

You can just sit back and hope they’ll trust you–or you can show them you’re trustworthy.

Here are five practical things you can do to build trust quickly and easily with others:

1/ Connect: Take time to get to know the person whose trust you’re seeking, —whether through a meeting, over coffee, or on your way to the next sales call. It only takes a minute to ask someone about themselves. Here are examples of questions to get the conversation started:

  • “What’s one thing most important to you about your work?” (for an employee, perhaps).
  • “Where do you see yourself five years from now?” (for a business owner, possibly).
  • “What’s one thing you’re most proud of?” (for a child–or anyone, for that matter).
  • “What do you love doing in your spare time?” (for anyone).

Notice that these questions are not about the weather, they are about the other person.  We tend to trust those who know something about us or who have empathy for our situation.1

 Just consider your own experience. Who are you more willing to trust–a complete stranger or someone who knows you? 

I knew a VP of sales who, after two years, didn’t know that his top salesperson was a single parent. He said he “didn’t have time” to get to know his team member. You have time–because it takes just 30 seconds to ask a question and maybe another four minutes to listen.

2/ Double click: Show your sincere interest in another by getting curious. When someone says, ‘’Ya, I’ve been super busy,” instead of saying, “Ya, I know what you mean,” be curious instead. Try double clicking.2 Just as with a computer when you ‘double click’ your mouse on a link and it opens up a bigger explanation, so too might your companion. When you’re listening to someone, be curious, listen for key words, and try double clicking.  Here are some double-clicking openers:

  • “Super busy?  What’s on your plate that’s keeping you so busy?”
  • “When you say more ‘work-life balance,’ what would be the ideal balance for you?’
  • “You won an award?  You must be so proud! (then be quiet so they can say more).

Malcolm Gladwell points out in his book Blink, that people have exquisite observation skills. When you’re sincerely interested in someone, they pick up on it.  Your tone of voice, eye contact, and words, convey the message that you feel they are important.   

Think of someone you’d like to build trust with. Ask them one sincere question about themselves–and then listen. You’ll be investing in the relationship and building trust.

3/ Compliment: Think of something your counterpart does well or that you appreciate, and offer positive feedback. Authentic feedback is a gift, and when we frame our feedback in a way that is specific and sincere, it goes a long way toward building trust. Some examples include

  • “You’re always so thoughtful. Like last Thursday when you offered to call that customer back for me when I needed to leave early that day.”
  • “I really admire how positive you are. Whenever people suggest an idea, you think of reasons why it will work, how it could be done. It’s very refreshing.”
  • “That was an amazing …report, presentation, game, gesture (fill in the blank). Where did you learn to do that?”

Most people are doing their best to add value, every day, in some way. When you pay someone an honest compliment, they know you see and trust their best intentions, and trust builds trust.

4/ Make a promise: Make a commitment—and then keep it. There is nothing quite like being dependable to build trust. For example:

  • Keep your meetings with your employees. Cancelling sends the message that your team members are not as important to you as other demands (of course, the unexpected shows up, but this should be the exception, never the norm).
  • When you say, “I’ll get back to you on that,” or “I’ll send you that … book, article, or photo,” do it right away. Make a note, put it in your calendar, set your watch, whatever it takes–but do it. If you’re thinking, “That’s ridiculous, I can’t keep every promise,” then maybe you’re making too many promises. Know your capacity and be selective.

5/ Recover: When you make a mistake–miss a meeting, break a promise, or say the wrong thing, take responsibility. Here’s what taking responsibility looks like

  • Acknowledge your mistake. If you need to apologize to someone, do it (“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for that to happen”). The sooner the better.
  • Set things right. Complete the report, send the book, repair the mistake. If it’s irreparable (you missed the meeting), commit to be there next time—and show up!.
  • Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?” Don’t waste time beating yourself up, we’re all doing our best–and that means you too. Learn and move on.
  • Recover! As Frank Sinatra says, “I just pick myself up and get back in the race, that’s life.”  Remember your intentions, then get back in there.

There are many excellent articles, courses, and books on trust.  Stephen Covey Jr’s The Speed of Trust is just one example or Arlene Dickinson’s Persuasion.  In the meantime, here is a quick way to learn more:

  • Think about someone you trust. What does that person do or say that earns your trust?
  • Think about someone who trusts you. What do you do that you believe earns their trust?
  • What is one thing you could do, to build trust with someone you want to trust you.

 1 See Marcus Buckingham’s First Break All The Rules, particularly his Q-12 question “My manager or someone at work seems to care about me …”

2 Andy Kimball of Qube International taught me this metaphor. Qube is a global company specializing in sales-force readiness, leadership, and e-learning solutions. .


Want to learn more or seeking some support to enhance your trust-building skills? 

Call us at 1855-524-5900 or email .



1 Comment

  • This is a really lovely article. Thanks for breaking it down in such accessible terms. Love the “double click” concept!

Leave a Reply


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

How to Motivate Employees in 10 Minutes or Less

Get your free eBook when you subscribe to my newsletter.