How to Build Trust, Credibility and Respect

According to recent research by Dale Carnegie Training Japan, there are three critical drivers for engagement, namely, your relationship with your immediate supervisor, your belief in senior management’s direction for the organisation and your sense of pride in working there.

An emotional trigger also creates engagement—the feeling of trust.

What is meant by trust? It can be defined as confidence in the fact that you can rely on a certain person or thing.

The presence of too little trust or too much trust can be dangerous, however. A healthy level of trust comes from making good decisions and exercising good judgment, using a balance of head and heart, facts and instinct.

Working in a healthy trust environment versus one full of distrust brings many benefits: greater job satisfaction, employees who are more engaged, improved productivity, reduced stress, more innovation, better customer interaction, and high staff retention rates.

Trust, respect and credibility are tightly interconnected. If you don’t TRUST me, you will not view me as credible, nor will you respect me. If you don’t RESPECT me, you will not view me as credible or trustworthy. If you don’t find me CREDIBLE, you will not trust or respect me.

What are the usual signs of distrust? Here are six warning beacons:

  • Low morale and lack of motivation or initiative
  • High absenteeism, tardiness and staff turnover
  • Guarded communication or an active gossip/rumour mill spreading often false information
  • An undercurrent of fear and worry among staff
  • Cynical or suspicious behaviour
  • Defensive or aggressive behaviour and communication
  • It can be tricky discerning levels of distrust in Japan. As a boss, you will certainly be the last to know if there is a sense of distrust in the office.

    It pays to have informal talks outside business hours with various staff, so they can tell you what is really happening.

    The boozy bar-side chat is standard operating procedure among older generation Japanese, so they can tell the boss he is an idiot and later save everyone’s face by blaming the demon drink.

    If trust is lost, how can it be restored? First of all, you must be aware of an important cycle related to the deterioration and rebuilding of trust.

    First, an event or events trigger a breakdown in trust between people. Second, feelings of disappointment, anger, resentment and fear come to the surface. In response, we feel the need to emotionally disengage from the issue, to pull back, take a “time out” to reflect on the situation.

    We then discuss and communicate our thoughts and feelings about the situation with the other person. This part is tricky in Japan, because people don’t easily tell you what is wrong.

    I remember once spending a full hour of total, unbroken silence with a company employee, waiting for the answer to my question asking about her concern. After what felt like an eternity, the woman finally spoke up, only to say, “I can’t tell you!”

    After discussing your thoughts, be generous in spirit and give the person in whom trust has been lost a second chance. It is to be hoped this will lead to a positive outcome, and that the person will redeem themself. Finally, with time and more positive interactions, trust can be re-established.

    Once trust has been compromised, it is not all a lost cause. We can be proactive and take five steps to boost and restore trust.

  • Put your ego aside and allow yourself to be seen as vulnerable. Reveal yourself as a human being, not just an authority figure.
  • Honestly review your perceptions and take full responsibility for your part in breaking the trust. Examine your assumptions and be honest with yourself. Reflect on what role you had in the situation.
  • Meet privately with the person and disclose your perceptions and concerns. Ask for their perspective, keep an open mind, truly listen and put yourself in their shoes. Shut up and let them do most of the talking.
  • Find out what the offended person needs from you to repair the broken trust, and share what you need from them. Listen and check for understanding. Meet on a regular basis to assess progress.
  • Be vigilant about upholding your end of the deal. Actions will speak volumes.
  • The way in which we communicate can either reinforce our positive efforts or derail them. In ascending order of importance, consider the following factors as ones that influence communication.

    Facial expressions can be misinterpreted. Never forget, employees are expert “boss watchers”, always scanning leaders’ faces for their moods. Japanese bosses have a genetic disadvantage here, because their serious, concentrating faces and their angry faces can look the same in many cases! Make sure you are aware of your own facial expressions.

    A person’s demeanour, attitude and character all communicate positive or negative feelings. Constantly check what your attitude is conveying. Maybe your body language is screaming at someone, even though you haven’t said a word.

    What you say
    The words we choose, the facts we give, the stories we tell, the knowledge we access—they all play a big role in engaging a person.

    How you say it
    Most importantly, a speaker’s tone, pitch, speed, strength and tempo when talking all send messages to listeners. We need to carefully align these aspects with our intended message.

    In addition to this advice, I recommend Dale Carnegie’s book, How To Win Friends and Influence People. It is a timeless classic on how to improve your daily interactions. Read it for the first time or, if it has been a while, read it again. It could change your life. It certainly changed mine!