Article written by Randy Conley
You will rarely, if ever, hear someone say: “I don’t trust you.” to you directly. Trust is one of those topics, along with religion and politics, that is usually taboo to discuss openly in the workplace. It’s often talked about in the shadows and hallways of the organization, not in conference rooms and one-on-one meetings.
Because trust is a difficult and sensitive issue to address, people often feel blind-sided when it finally comes to their attention that they have “trust issues” in their relationships. None of us likes to think we’re not trustworthy, and when we learn other people don’t perceive us that way, it comes as a shock and disappointment. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. If you pay attention, you can see the warning signs of low trust in your relationships. Here’s five warning signs you’re skating on the thin ice of low trust:
1. Rumors and gossip – Since trust can be a touchy subject to address, particularly with the person that isn’t trusted, low-trust concerns usually surface in rumors and gossip. If you find that you are frequently the subject of the office water cooler discussion, you may want to figure out why.
2. Secrecy and withholding of information – It goes without saying that people won’t share important information with you if you aren’t trusted. Consistently finding that you’re left in the dark or are the last to know about critical details should be a cause for concern.
3. Exclusion from activities – Being competent in your role and building positive relationships are two key components of being a trustworthy person. Being passed over, or worse, not even being considered for key projects or initiatives, may mean that you’re falling short in those two areas.
4. Your opinion isn’t valued – When trustworthy people speak, other people usually listen. Trust is built over a period of time as people prove they are competent, ethical, dependable, and care about others. If you don’t carry that sort of weight in your relationships, you may need to work on building trust.
5. Stress or tension – It often feels like you’re walking on eggshells when it comes to interacting with people you don’t trust. You’re suspicious of their motives, how they’ll react, and whether or not they’ll take advantage of you. If people always seem to be on guard around you, it could be a sign they don’t trust you.
Just because people don’t normally say “I don’t trust you” right to your face, doesn’t mean they aren’t communicating that truth to you in other more subtle, but no less serious ways. Pay attention to the warning signs of low trust in your relationships and take steps to build trust in healthy, productive ways.