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Home > Audio, Books, Podcast, Show > Archive: A Reputation for Trustworthiness — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

Archive: A Reputation for Trustworthiness — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

April 18th, 2014

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Read and listen to the first column in this series, Cultivating Your Career Reputations.

If a hierarchy exists to the reputations I have highlighted so far this month, trustworthiness would surely be near, if not at, the top of the list. Trust, as I have written in Career Opportunities before, is one of the most critical elements of any successful career. Without trust it is nearly impossible to achieve anything. You must trust others, they must trust you and you all must trust yourselves in order for everyone to thrive.

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If your time is spent worrying whether your co-workers will do what they have said they would, you will have great difficulty accomplishing anything yourself. If you do not deliver on your commitments, then those around you will find their effectiveness crippled. Lack of trust is an insidious beast, roaming our lives and insuring that no one moves forward.

As with many issues in our careers and in our lives, we must seek to understand ourselves better before we can ever hope to understand others. If we look deeply at our own reputation for trustworthiness, what do we see? Do we follow through on commitments? Do we keep our promises to others?…to ourselves? If not, you need to examine the cause. Do you feel you can trust no one, so therefore you need not be trustworthy yourself? I know I have met a few people like this in the past. Truth, to them, is a fluid concept, subjective, without any concrete meaning. They tell whatever truth will gain them the greatest advantage at the moment, without regard to others. They will often lie outright, it if suits their purposes.

While I doubt that any of you fall into such a dubious category, lack of trustworthiness can manifest itself in subtler ways. Often, we display our lack through missed or ignored promises. Nothing demonstrates trustworthiness more clearly than our ability to fulfill our promises and commitments to others and ourselves. If we fail to deliver, those around us will quickly learn that we are not to be trusted. Conversely, if you want to demonstrate your trustworthiness, keep your commitments religiously. Don’t make promises you cannot keep and, if problems arise, renegotiate your promises and commitments so that those around can plan accordingly.

Of course, what happens when you are confronted with untrustworthy people as co-workers, managers or clients? First, you can attempt to help them change. Remember, though, that you cannot force them to change. They have to come to the realization that they are being untrustworthy and adjust their behavior accordingly. If someone is making unrealistic promises, help them to adjust their outlook. Often, especially in younger people, they are too eager to please and therefore make commitments they cannot keep.

You can see this frequently in young workers , working perhaps their first or second jobs. Rather than risk offending their boss, they will agree to impossible deadlines and deliverables that they have no way of achieving. Of course, when they fail to deliver, it has exactly the opposite effect they wanted to achieve. Now their manager will feel that they can no longer trust them. In an effort to please, they have damaged their career much worse than if they had negotiated a longer deadline or less ambitious plan.

Worst of all, trust is fragile beyond belief. There are no second warnings when trust is violated. In some cases, you might be fired at the first signs. Instinctively, people know that trust is so important that any transgression, no matter how small, is dangerous to everyone involved. This is why you need to guard against any sign of untrustworthiness, from the very beginning of your career. If those around you feel they can’t trust you, your job and career are in grave danger. Let this lack of trust spill over into your life and even larger problems are sure to occur. Trustworthy people are given the benefit of the doubt when untoward events occur. Untrustworthy ones are the first in line to be fired. It is easy to see on which side of that equation you want to fall.

Without trust, all other reputations have no foundation, no place to stand. Trust is so integral to our work and life that, without this underpinning, you will find yourself struggling, no matter how amazing your knowledge, skills or other stellar reputations. Take trust to heart and understand it has the ability to directly and critically effect the success of your career.

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