People judge. We all do it, and we draw those conclusions quickly. It’s natural and not necessarily a bad thing. After all, it is part of our survival instincts.

I talk a lot about being aware of how people perceive you, building your personal brand and becoming clear on how you want to be known. It starts with that instant assessment someone makes of you. But that is (hopefully) just the beginning of a relationship.

If you want to create a lasting connection, what makes the difference is the long-term perception that the other person has of you. Your lasting brand is built on the belief that what they know and expect about you is what they get. Relationships are about trust – because trust is the foundation of connection.

So, how do you infuse trust into the impression you are making? In my work, I have identified four fundamental aspects of trust:

  1. Authenticity: Law #1 is that the real you is the best you. That doesn’t mean we don’t flex and adjust to enable connections with one another. It does mean that we stop acting like we think others want us to. There is no “work persona” – there is only you. You have to be willing to share some information about yourself, because if you are not bringing the real you, there’s no ability to connect or trust.
  2. Vulnerability: Vulnerability means self-disclosure, acknowledging your mistakes, accountability, giving credit to others and being OK with being imperfect. Remember, vulnerability is not weakness; it’s openness.
  3. Transparency: If you don’t share information, people will come up with their own answers to their questions. They will spin their own stories, which will rarely be the ones you want them to be. Keep people in the loop even if you don’t have all the answers, and they will trust that you will tell them when you do.
  4. Consistency: All of these aspects are great, but they won’t matter unless you demonstrate authenticity, vulnerability and transparency on a regular basis. They are not just “do-it-once” concepts. You have to consistently apply these four pillars time after time in order to build and maintain trust.

One last thought on trust: You have to give trust to receive trust. Show your colleagues and employees that you believe in them. Empower others around you, and you may just see that trust returned.

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