Inspiring Trust

June 15th, 2013 @   -  No Comments

When Prophet Yusuf (AS) asked the king of Egypt to give him the job of managing the economy, he supported his request by mentioning two of his merits: his knowledge and trustworthiness. Due to those qualities, the king gave him the coveted position.

After leaving Egypt and upon his arrival at Madian, Prophet Musa (AS) helped two women water their sheep. Later, one of them advised her father to hire him by highlighting two of his qualities: “…the best man you hire is the one who is strong and trustworthy” (Quran 28:26). As a result, Musa (AS) got the job.

In both cases, Yusuf (AS) and Musa (AS) inspired trust. Why? They were not only of good character but also competent. They had the capability to deliver results. Trust is therefore a function of both character and competence.

For example, you may trust a friend, spouse or colleague, but in a medical emergency, you would seek the help of a trained medical doctor with a good track record, not your untrained spouse or friend. Similarly, would you go to a competent but dishonest doctor? Would you take your car back to a mechanic who replaced parts of your car with new ones, knowing the old ones were still in good condition? Of course not! We may trust people’s character, but not their ability to deliver results. The opposite is also true.

So how can you inspire trust? Here are a few suggestions:

1.     Build the foundation of Trust – Character

  • Speak the truth

The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Truthfulness gives satisfaction; lying causes suspicion” (At-Tirmidhi). Not being transparent and distorting facts by purposefully leaving out certain parts of the story also causes suspicion. When truth is prevalent in an environment, trust is evident among team members and there are no hidden agendas.

  • Keep your promises – Only make promises that you intend to keep

Can people count on you to deliver on your promises? Keeping promises can be manifested in something as small as being on time for appointments, taking your kids out on the weekend as you told them, and beginning an event on time as indicated in your flyer or advertisement. If you cannot keep your promises for reasons beyond your control, tell those involved at the first appropriate time. When you break your promises, you are sending a message, knowingly or unknowingly, saying, “Do not count on me; I am unreliable.” Never promise more than you can deliver.

This is true even with animals. The Prophet (PBUH) saw one of his companions trying to entice a horse with a gesture of false promise. The Prophet told him, “Stop deceiving animals. Instead, be trustworthy with them” (Bukhari).

  • Never disclose a secret

The Prophet (PBUH) said, “If a man tells you something then looks around, it is a trust” (Al-Tirmidhi). Someone who reveals other people’s secrets or their organization’s secrets to you will very likely reveal your secrets to others.  Would you trust them?

Anytime you break one of these principles, you create a crack in the foundation of trust.

2.     Build your capabilities – Get better at what you do

To increase your capabilities to perform, you need to:

  • Focus on your strength
  • Be relevant to the market – You can be very good at what you do, but if there is no market for what you offer, then it is irrelevant.
  • Keep learning – You can read books, attend training programs, observe and learn from others’ experiences. Learning also opens up new opportunities and keeps you relevant.
  • Deliver results – Ultimately, people want to see results. The lack of results undermines the trust people have in you. The level of trust people put in you depends on your track record.  Ask yourself this question, “What is my track record? Is it full of achievements or full of excuses?”
  • Take responsibility for actions and results – When you fail to deliver, don’t look for someone to blame, but try to take whatever action is necessary to improve the situation. Blaming others will erode their trust in you.

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