It’s an important trait, and an often overlooked one.
If you feel like you’re being overlooked for positions of trust and authority, like nobody would ask you to watch their baby or shopping for a few minutes, it’s comforting to blame other people’s perception. But there are some things you can do to build a reputation for trustworthiness that will help you in the future. Besides, it’s good to be trusted, right? (On the other hand, if you only want to seem trustworthy, here’s another article for you.)
You have to turn up
There are times in everyone’s life when they’re too sick, missed the train, set the alarm for PM instead of AM or just can’t face turning up today. This is true for school, work and social events, and it’s fine when it happens once in a while. But when it becomes a pattern of behaviour, people notice. And they won’t feel comfortable relying on you for anything that’s time sensitive. In a work environment, this doesn’t just affect you and your manager. As someone who used to often get called first thing on a Sunday morning to cover a shift, I can tell you that it will make your co-workers resent you, too.
Following through on what you say is important
It’s easy to say yes to things, especially if the person asking you is one of those annoying types who’ll keep pressuring you when you say no. On the other hand, it’s going to be even more annoying when they’re pressuring you for not doing what you said you would. Also, people who put some effort into projects – even if there’s no immediate pay-off – are more likely to be trusted with future opportunities. Soooo, if you say you’re going to do something, do it. If not, don’t volunteer in the first place. Basically, don’t make promises you can’t keep.
Learn to communicate with people
If there’s a reason you can’t do something you said you would – say, you’ve overloaded yourself with too much stuff or your mum’s sick and needs your help – reach out and tell the appropriate people. Saying nothing and hoping it’ll all work out fine is a recipe for disaster, and also means those appropriate people can’t make other plans to work around you. This goes for needing an extension on an assignment, swapping a shift at work or helping a friend move. Don’t let things slide until it’s too late.
Stop bitching about everyone
Here’s a quick rule for life: if someone bitches to you about everyone else, they’re bitching about you to everyone else. Here’s another quick rule: your friends talk to each other when you’re not there. Put these two rules together and it isn’t hard to see why people don’t trust you when you’re always whinging about everyone and putting your so-called friends down. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a conversation about friends or acquaintances you have in common, but keep it respectful and positive. Don’t get dragged into bitchy gossip. Wait until some time has passed, then casually mention the slackers you had to cover on Sunday mornings in a column about trustworthiness…
And don’t spill secrets either
Keeping your mouth shut is a big leap forward in the trustworthy stakes. People don’t tell you their secrets because they want them sprayed all over the place (well, some people might, but don’t do it anyway). Even if you think they won’t find out the goss came from you, your reputation will suffer. After all, the people you’ve spilled the secrets to will immediately know that you can’t be trusted with sensitive information. More listening and less talking will not only make you seem more trustworthy, it’ll ensure you keep getting the juice.