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1. Be Transparent and Accountable

“Make your intentions known. Be very clear about what you want from someone else and what they can expect from you,” neuroeconomist Paul Zak, PhD, advises. “Provide information on the progress toward goals, and if you can’t meet your obligations, tell the other party as soon as you know this and create a plan to resolve the difficulties you’ve caused them.” If you have to interact with someone who has breached your trust, Zak says, a third party can be useful for mediating disputes and future interactions.

2. Keep Confidences

Sharing information that isn’t yours to share diminishes your trustworthiness with the person whose confidence you betrayed as well as with those you shared the gossip with.

3. Set and Respect Boundaries

“There is no trust without boundaries,” says social scientist Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW. “I trust you if you are clear about your boundaries and you hold them and you’re clear about my boundaries and you respect them.”

4. Be Vulnerable

It might feel risky to open up, but a study of workplaces found that people were more likely to perceive others as trustworthy when they felt they shared common interests, values, or goals.

5. Have Discussions — In Person

A survey of employees found that 90 percent of respondents preferred face-to-face communication, but they spoke with their manager in person only 49 percent of the time.

6. Serve Others

Being kind and generous leads you to perceive others more positively and more charitably,” writes University of California, Riverside, psychology professor Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, in The How of Happiness. This “fosters a heightened sense of interdependence and cooperation in your social community.

7. Show Your Gratitude

Research has shown that expressing your thanks can strengthen relationships. One study indicated that couples who took the time to thank each other felt more positive toward each other and more comfortable expressing concerns about their relationship.

This originally appeared as “How to Be Trustworthy” in “A Matter of Trust” in the December 2018 print issue of Experience Life.

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