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How to build trust – Covey’s 10 tips

An uncommitted generation is coming of age and there are things they don’t like about the reflection in the mirror.  Because so many young people have been let down and disappointed by their elders, they struggle to trust.  It becomes a vicious cycle.  Expecting to be disappointed,…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

An uncommitted generation is coming of age and there are things they don’t like about the reflection in the mirror.  Because so many young people have been let down and disappointed by their elders, they struggle to trust.  It becomes a vicious cycle.  Expecting to be disappointed, they behave in ways that show their lack of trust.  Thus they themselves are unworthy of the trust that they wish others displayed.  This, in turn, makes it hard for them to commit.

Past doesn’t have to be prologue.  Your parent’s dysfunction doesn’t need to describe your character; you can choose to live differently by doing the sort of practical things that build trust day by day.

So how does one build trust?  Here are ten ways in which people build trust (most come from Stephen Covey):

1. Listen well.  If you think I’m important enough to listen to me when I talk, then I’m going to think more highly of you.

2. Make and keep promises.  Twenty-somethings have been let down by their parents’ generation and are cynical.  Counter that cycle by doing what you say you’ll do.


3. Clarify expectations. 
It may not be anything more than poor communication that has you failing to trust someone else.  Go the extra mile and explain in detail what you really hope will happen.

4. Kindesses and courtesies.  When was the last time you sent someone a nice thank you note?  Do that and you say to them, “You are significant.”  In return, they will trust you more.

5. Be loyal to those not present.  Talk behind my back and, if I find out, my trust will go down.  Conversely, if you refrain from gossip and critical talk, you honor others.

6. Apologize.  When you take the blame for something and apologize, my respect for you will increase.  Apologies show that you’ve got your ego in check, that defensiveness doesn’t control you.

7. Forgive.  People make interpersonal mistakes all the time.  How do you trust someone who doesn’t forgive others when they make a mistake?  To err is human, to forgive divine.

8. Be honest.  When someone is more known for their tap dancing than their honesty, you don’t know where you stand or what version of the truth you’ll get.  Be a straight shooter and people will trust you more.

9. Show appreciation.  Who doesn’t like to be thanked?  It boosts your sense of significance and you know that you’ve got value in another person’s eyes. 

10. Give and receive feedback.  Giving feedback involves taking a risk.  You could be wrong or your perceptions could be rejected.  But feedback is something we all need.  Give it well and you’ve given a gift, one that can build trust.

Comments (5)

  • Thanks Seth! I am going to use this as a meditation and devotional over the next “while.” I want to strive to be a person of excellence and integrity, and this will promote that desire!

  • Seth-
    I’ve printed these out and posted them near my computer. A good reminder of how we should already be living! Plan on grading myself against these criteria frequently. . .

  • Thanks for the tips, I’m a new youth group leader (I’m still in highschool so I’m a youth youth-leader…if ya get it) and I’ve been looking for some simple tips just to take to heart so my group can learn to trust me and for me to trust them. I just really want my group to be more open, and trusting with eachother. pray for me! thanks to all! 🙂

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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