Build Trust By Saying “No”

There’s some twisted thinking going on about building trusting relationships. It goes like this:

“If I make people happy by not disagreeing with them they will like me more. Then they’ll trust me more because I’m agreeable. Wow. Then when I need something or want something I’m more likely to get it. And if I’m a manager, that’s good.”


NoThink for a moment about the people–or person–you trust the most. Do they always say “yes? No. And that’s why you trust them.

We trust people who have limits and beliefs, then care enough to state what they are. A relationship of “yeses” leaves us suspicious at best.

People don’t have to be disagreeable in order to disagree. We often respect someone who tells us not only that (s)he sees things differently, but who then takes time to calmly explain “why.” Taking time to explain “why” is a sign of respect toward us.

When you mean “yes” say “yes.” When you mean “no” say “no.” And share your reason.

In an era that seems to beg for leadership, become someone who people want to follow because they trust that you mean what you say. An honest “no” to others will get you an honest “yes” on their trust scale.

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Steve has designed and delivered leadership and communication programs for some of the world's largest organizations, and has more than 30 years in training, development, and high-level executive coaching. His Roesler Group has created and delivered leadership and talent development internationally for corporations such as Pfizer, Minerals Technologies, Johnson & Johnson, NordCarb Oy Ab, and Specialty Minerals--Europe. Steve is currently involved in the latest update of his Presenting With Impact program, a cross-cultural presentations workshop that has been delivered on five continents to more than 1,000 participants representing nearly 60 nationalities.


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