How to Begin Building Trust


By Mina Guirguis, Marketing Consultant at Heinz Marketing

What is one of the most difficult aspects of marketing a product or service? While many ideas may come to mind, I would argue it is building trust between all your stakeholders. That means not only your audience, but your clients, coworkers, managers, and everyone in-between. According to Brenda Bailey-Hughes, a professor at Kelley School of business in Bloomington, Indiana, there are 3 primary types of trust, also known as trust drivers. We are going to look at each one, discuss why they are significant, and when the best time to use each form of trust is.


This is the form of trust most of us are aware of. Showing those around you that you are prepared, thoughtful, and knowledgeable is a fantastic way to increase trust. Competency shows others you are experienced, know how to prioritize and that they can rely on you when they need you. That last bit is possibly the most important aspect of gaining trust through competency. Displaying to others you can complete a task well and on time makes them feel like you have their back. The most important relationships to establish competency with are with your clients, managers, and technical audience (the ones that need a bit more convincing). However, building trust solely on being competent will be an uphill battle within the next two trust drivers.


Faking it won’t make it in the world of trust building. Exaggerating, being passive, or simply not communicating how you truly feel (when appropriate) can be detrimental to any relationship. Being authentic simply means being genuine with a person. Don’t try to sell them something that won’t work for them, in fact, if you tell a client one of your solutions isn’t the best fit for them, they will likely trust you more. Authenticity applies to more than just sales. Your coworkers will be able to trust you more if you are honest with them. Not being authentic can create negative feelings within a team. This can lead to low morale and back-stabbing. Be genuine, honest, and accountable, and you’ll see people trust you more than ever.


While empathy may not surprise you, it is often a trust driver many of us forget. Managers and people in leadership roles can gain the most from this trust driver. Coming from a place of understanding when your employee misses a deadline, or when there is a miscommunication with instructions is key. Showing empathy with those reporting to you will not only make them feel more comfortable with you, many will strive to do better work when they are greeted with kindness and understanding. This also goes for dealing with clients, coworkers, 3rd party vendors, or really anyone who may not meet expectations. However, if you are the one missing the deadline make sure to be using authenticity in return. Owning up to your mistakes will help other be more empathetic.

There you have it. Trust in the workplace is vital for collaborative and healthy relationships. While building trust is rarely done overnight, by using the three trust drivers of competency, authenticity, and empathy, your clients, team and company will know who to come to when they need support.