5 Signs You Can Trust Someone — In Business And Life

Dan Sullivan
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Who Can You Trust In The Marketplace?

Capitalism—and entrepreneurship—require people who don’t necessarily know one another to work together. This invariably means putting their trust in each other.

Putting trust in someone is a calculated risk, as you can never know for certain what someone’s done before you met them and how they will perform, but there are ways you can assess whether someone is a good bet to put your trust in.

Because I know I can count on myself, this has helped me to develop a framework for what makes someone else trustworthy.

There are five characteristics I’ve cultivated in myself and that I look for in others:

1. Be on time.

When it comes to activities that only have to do with myself, there’s a certain flexibility in my schedule. But when it comes to anything involving other people, I have a very well developed time sense so that I always show up when I’ve said I’m going to show up—or better yet, I show up early.

Whether you’ve ever reflected on it or not, there’s a kind of certainty that you get about someone when they always show up on time and are ready to go.

2. Do what you say.

If you’ve committed to creating something, presenting something, or showing up somewhere, always come through with what you’ve promised.

This is my 30th year of coaching workshops, and I’ve never been late for a single one. Out of more than 2,500 workshops, I’ve only ever missed one, and that was for my mother’s funeral (and another coach filled in for me on that occasion).

I’m always on time for my podcasts, my videos, and my book projects, and I’m always totally prepared to contribute my part of the project.

Looking for more strategies for self-improvement? Check out The Strategic Coach Approach to Being Present.

3. Finish what you start.

I always finish what I start, with the one possible exception being when a project might change.

For example, I might be halfway through finishing a project that I’ve committed myself to, and determine that it actually doesn’t make sense to deliver exactly what I’ve committed to doing.

In this case, I’ll contact the person I’ve promised it to and say, “I’ve rethought this and come up with a better idea on how to handle it.” So I’m stopping the first project, which means I’m finishing it, but I’m replacing it with something better.

I always deliver something, though not necessarily the initial thing I said I was committed to, unless it’s absolutely what the other person needs.

4. Say please and thank you.

If I make a request from another person, I always say please. “Please” means that I recognize that other people operate independently from me, and therefore, if I want cooperation from them, I’m going to approach them in a respectful way and let them know that I would be grateful for their contribution.

And when someone’s done something that’s of value to me, I always thank them for their performance and for how they’ve moved things forward for me. The more specific you can be about what you’re thanking someone for, the more of an impact it will have on them.

5. Be appropriate.

Different things are appropriate for different situations, and this includes the way you dress, the way you act, and the way you speak.

If, for example, you aren’t dressed appropriately for a situation, it shows that you don’t really care about other people’s rules, you don’t understand the context, or you don’t care about how you show up. This does not inspire confidence—or trust.

The importance of trust.

There are people who are smart, talented, and charismatic, but they don’t demonstrate these five qualities, and so you eventually cut them out of your life because you can’t depend on them.

I want to always be able to see myself through others’ eyes and say, “Dan always delivers.”

That’s my credibility out in the marketplace. There’s trust that people don’t even have to think about, and the same goes for me toward other people who always check these five boxes. I never have to worry about those people.

Cooperation, collaboration, creativity, greater productivity, and greater success are possible simply by interacting with individuals you can trust.

And if you have someone’s trust, if you’ve proven your credibility to them, they won’t hesitate to refer you to others.