Who Can I Trust?

How do I know I can trust you?

Who can I trust? How do I identify whether trust is a big risk or not? Excellent questions that probably all of us have asked ourselves at some point when facing a new situation or opportunity. Hurley (2006) suggests that feeling a sense of security, having shared interests and similarities are some key situational factors that impact our willingness to trust others. It impacts our work, our relationships, and how we approach new people and new situations.

Trust is complicated, challenging to establish, and can be lost or broken in seconds, and can take months or years to repair, if ever. So how can we be more intentional about setting the stage for stronger trust in our lives and our teams?

In this article, we will finish looking at the remaining situational factors that impact our willingness to trust others, according to Hurley. Those are: Benevolent Concern, Capability, Predictability & Integrity, and Level of Communication.

Benevolent Concern

“The manager who demonstrates benevolent concern—who shows his employees that he will put himself at risk for them—engenders not only trust but also loyalty and commitment”. Who doesn’t want to work for someone like that? I know I do. Here’s the key word (to me) in that description: risk. Taking risk can be something we avoid a lot if we aren’t conscious of the fact that risk is part of joy, connection, and authentic relationships. Want to be trusted?….you have to take risks. Want to be a leader?…you have to take risks. Putting ourselves at risk for others shows them that our first concern isn’t always for ourselves.


Hurley reminds us that even if all the good traits above are present, if we have someone who is incompetent, it isn’t going to work. We need women and men who “know their stuff”, are experts on the content, and also possess the trust-building skills we have reviewed above. When the team members know that each person’s role is aligned with their strengths and expertise, that they will deliver, then trust is likely to be a core function of that team.

Predictability & Integrity

“A trustee whose behavior can be reliably predicted will be seen as more trustworthy. One whose behavior is erratic will be met with suspicion. Here the issue of integrity comes into play—that is, doing what you say you will do”. In a previous blog, I stressed the point that YOU are a brand. It comes back into play in this area as well. What’s your brand? Creative but erratic? Gifted but unpredictable? Hurley’s research indicates that whatever our gifts and talents are, we need to be somewhat predictable with high integrity in order for our teams to trust us.

Level of Communication

One of the most common topics I am asked to teach, train, and speak on is communication. It’s easy to think “oh yeah, another seminar on how to communicate”. But here’s the thing….none of us get this perfect no matter how trained or gifted we think we are. Trust and communication go hand-in-hand, whether we like it or not. If communication is poor in an organization, trust probably is also. On the other hand, if communication is timely, candid, and current, the levels of trust are much more likely to be higher.

This fourth article on trust, wraps up this series on the topic. I’m sure I will revisit trust at some point in the future but for now we move on to our next topic. To see what that will be, keep an eye on my website at:


Hurley, R. (2006). The Decision to Trust. Harvard Business Review. September: