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How Do You Establish Trust When Building Relationships?

"How Do You Establish Trust When Building Relationships?"

Since early 2009, I have been asking 60+ Capture Your Flag interviewees questions just like this, gathering their answers and building up a library of knowledge. This knowledge library exists to support you on your own journey. The videos serve as reference material to help you compare and contrast your experiences to the experiences of other people just like you who may be a stage or two ahead of you in their career or in their lives. We call this a Near Peer Learning experience. This experience is about trust and to begin, you need to answer the question yourself.

How do YOU establish trust when building relationships?

Creating, managing and cultivating relationships - both personal and professional - is a fundamental theme of the conversations I have with our Capture Your Flag interviewees. At all levels, from meeting someone romantically to finding the right person to hire for your company to building that bond that will take your partnership or friendship to new levels, our conversations always seem to come back to trust and what it means to build trusting relationships.

Do you see trust as something that is earned over time, that can be assessed and given in an initial encounter, or that should be assumed at the onset of a conversation or relationship? Do you treat it differently for family, friends and/or colleagues or are you consistent in your approach?

It is clear that trust can develop in many ways.

In asking dozens of Capture Your Flag interviewees this exact question, we have learned a tremendous amount about ways to think about and go about establishing trust when building relationships. Since trust is such an important element in relationships, it is my hope you will find it useful turning to the knowledge library for relevant content on establishing trust. One example I would like to share with you in this post comes from Professor Ben Hallen.

Ben Hallen is an Assistant Professor at London Business School where he teaches entrepreneurship and strategy. His research focuses on how relationships develop between investors and startup founders. Through extensive research, Hallen has developed insight on how trust develops between two parties, which goes far beyond business and right to the heart of every relationship we know in our lives.

In his response, Hallen covers four ways to establish trust.


Hallen notes "[If] I were to give you the textbook answer, trust develops historically over time. That’s one way, through repeat interactions, escalating interaction, where each person opens themself up a little bit and the other person opens themself up more. Each contributes a growing amount. It builds slowly - you do put yourself out there, you have to put yourself out there - but it’s through ongoing interactions that trust then really develops over time. So it’s not something you necessarily want to try to rush, but you do want to put yourself in the positions that trust can develop."


Hallen then shares that "[another] way that trust can develop is through signals where you have a reason to believe that the other person is credible, or trust can be transferred through a third party." Signaling often comes about when two parties see there is both a competency to contribute to a trusting relationship and a commitment to allowing that trusting relationship to exist over a mutually acceptable period of time.


In describing his third method of developing trust, Hallen notes "At a very personal level, when I try and develop trust, I think its root is sincerity, that you’re very open, transparent, about what you’re looking for, and you couple that transparency with looking to add value. How can you add value to someone else? You make it more about them first, and so there has to be a real sincerity about looking to build up someone else and to work with them. You know, how can I create value?"


Lastly, Hallen takes his personal point of view one step further, saying "I don’t think it arises from the goal of creating trust but I think it does help with that process, believing that others are worth knowing, just for the very sake of knowing others, that there’s something inherently valuable and important about that."

We found this point of view from Professor Hallen helpful and insightful and hope you found it helpful and insightful too. 

For more videos from our Establishing Trust series, including all answer to this question and more, please visit the Establishing Trust theme page on our website or our YouTube Page Establishing Trust Video Playlist.

- Erik


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