Module 7

Building Trust and Resolving Conflict

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify effective responses to conflict, criticism, and disagreement in the workplace
  2. Define trust
  3. Describe credibility and how it can be improved
  4. Name ways and strategies to build trust for and with others
  5. Improve personal level of accountability

Trust in the Work Place

Trust creates the foundation for effective communication, staff retention, employee motivation and the contribution of discretionary energy which is what we call engagement…the extra effort that people voluntarily invest in work.

Since we know when we do and do not experience trust, we all believe that we think that we know what trust is. However, this is from our own experience and without meaningful conversation on trust with our co-workers and others, we can do little to improve it.

 Three Constructs of Trust

Trust has been defined as “the state of readiness for unguarded interaction with someone or something.” Trust is believed to be constructed of the following components that interact and exist to establish trust.

The Capacity for Trusting means that your total life experiences have developed your current capacity, narrative and willingness to risk trusting others. (Is it possible for me to trust?)

The Perception of Competence is made up of your perception of your ability and the ability of others with whom you work to perform competently at whatever is needed in your current situation. (Can I deliver on my promises?)

The Perception of Intentions is your perception that the actions, words, direction, mission, or decisions are motivated by mutually-serving rather than self-serving motives (Am I assuming good intent?)

Positive interactions of the three construct enables:

  • Feeling able to rely upon a person
  • Cooperating with and experiencing teamwork
  • Taking thoughtful risks
  • Experiencing believable communication

Rebuilding Trust: Letting Go and Moving on

When trust is violated, whether or not it can be restored depends on how badly it was damaged and how much the person feels betrayed. Most often, the burned person wants to cut losses and end the relationship. However, if repairing the damage is your goal, then there are some critical steps to follow:

  1. Acknowledge that there has been pain, betrayal, and or a loss of trust. Only then will the betrayer have a clear picture of what they need to do to set things right.
  2. Resolve to let it out and let it go. This step involves an element of forgiveness. If the person who hurt you apologizes accept and move on. Revisiting the event in the future only brings back your anger and keeps you in emotional limbo. Acknowledge that it happened, make your feelings and expectations known, and the stop focusing on what damaged the trust. Instead, focus on rebuilding trust.
  3. Know that things can never go back to the way they once were and keep your eyes wide open to future betrayals. The sad reality is that damaged trust cannot be restored to the previous state. People who fail to value trust enough in the first place more often than not continue that pattern in the future. This does not make the rebuilding effort a waste of time but does mean that the new trust will be different. You will be more sensitive to the prospect of another betrayal. Forgive yourself if doubt seeps in without real reason but don’t dwell on anticipating another breakdown.

Trust Defined

Mutual trust is a shared belief that you can depend on each other to achieve a common purpose and to:

  • Believe that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc.
  • Have confidence in (someone or something)
  • Believe that something is true or correct
  • Hope or expect that something is true or will happen

Adapted from Duane C. Tway and Susan Heathfield, © 2015 — All rights reserved.   Limited license. The materials used and displayed on the Sites, including but not limited to text, software, photographs, graphics, illustrations and artwork, video, music and sound, and names, logos, trademarks and service marks, are the property of About or its affiliates or licensors and are protected by copyright, trademark and other laws. Any such content may be used solely for your personal, non-commercial use. You agree not to modify, reproduce, retransmit, distribute, disseminate, sell, publish, broadcast or circulate any such material without the written permission of About or the appropriate affiliate. About grants you a personal, non-exclusive, non-transferable, revocable license to use the Sites for non-commercial purposes subject to these Terms of Use. You may link to our homepage, [] provided you do so in a way that is fair and legal and does not damage our reputation or take advantage of it, but you must not establish a link in such a way as to suggest any form of association, approval or endorsement on our part without our express written consent. Any use of the Sites not expressly permitted by these Terms of Use is a breach of these Terms of Use and may violate copyright, trademark and other laws.

Trust vs Credibility

  • Credibility is intellectual
  • Trust is intuitive and instinctive

Building Credibility

Credibility or believability is a building block of trust and conflict resolution. It is the foundational principle that enables us to establish and sustain trust at all levels.

  • Sharing important information, especially about oneself
  • Willingness to be influenced
  • avoiding the abuse of team members’ vulnerability (because of their inadequate access to information, or lack of positional power, and so on.)
  • being fair
  • fulfilling promises

The Core of Credibility

Integrity—Are you consistent?

  • Honesty
  • Walking your talk
  • Congruent inside and out
  • Acting in accordance with your values and beliefs

Intent—what’s your agenda?

  • Your motives and resulting behavior
  • Motives based on mutual benefit
  • Genuine care for ourselves and others

Capabilities—are you relevant?

  • Abilities you have to inspire confidence
  • Our talents, attitudes, skills, knowledge, and style
  • Our means to produce results
  • Your ability to establish, grow and restore trust

Results—what’s your track record?

  • Your track record, performance, getting the right things done
  • Achieving the results we promise

Trust Building Behaviors

  1. Talk straight—tell the truth and leave the right impression
  2. Demonstrate Respect—pay attention to the little things that matter to others
  3. Create Transparency—tell the truth I a way people can verify; share information, be open and authentic.
  4. Right Wrongs—make things right when you’re wrong; apologize quickly; demonstrate personal humility
  5. Show Loyalty—give credit; acknowledge the contributions of others; speak about people as if they were present; represent others not present to speak for themselves.
  6. Deliver Results—establish a track record of results; get the right things done; make things happen; don’t make excuses; don’t overpromise and under deliver
  7. Get Better—continuously improve; increase capabilities; be a constant learner; develop feedback systems; respect and act on feedback
  8. Confront Reality—address the tough stuff directly; acknowledge the unspoken; confront the real issues
  9. Clarify Expectations—share/state expectations; discuss and validate expectations of you and from you; negotiate when necessary.
  10. Practice Accountability—hold yourself and others accountable; be clear on how you will communicate how you’re doing; don’t blame others
  11. Listen First—listen before you speak; understand; listen with your ears, your eyes, and heart; find out what others care about
  12. Keep Commitments—say what you will do and do what you say you’re going to do; don’t break confidences
  13. Extend Trust—have a propensity to trust; don’t withhold because there is risk involved;

Adapted from Covey, Stephen, The Speed of Trust, Free Press, New York, 2006. © copyrighted material, need permission to use.


Reina Trust
© Reina Trust

The Reina Trust & Betrayal Model® defines trust as Transactional Trust™. Trust is reciprocal—you have to give it to get it—and it is built incrementally, step-by-step over time. There are three types of Transactional Trust: Contractual Trust™ which is the Trust of Character; Communication Trust™ which is the Trust of Disclosure; and Competence Trust™ which is the Trust of Capability.

From © copyrighted material, need permission to use. copyright 2011 Reina Trust, Reina Trust Building Institute, 560 Black Bear Run, Stowe, VT 05672, USA


Building Trust and Managing Commitments

commitment chart redo

Culture of Accountability

A definition of accountability

A personal commitment to achieve desired outcomes and rise above circumstances in service to the Mission, Values, and Vision of the organization

See it, own it, solve it, do it™

In a Culture of Accountability,

  • We achieve our outcomes when we work in partnership through conversations that always connect back to what we care about.
  • We collectively share ownership for circumstances and agreed on outcomes.
  • The process of making, keeping, and accepting responsibility for personal commitments made to others in our organization and community is central to creating organizational accountability

The Accountability Game:  Moving from Negative to Positive Accountability

  • Recognize your part
  • Take responsibility
  • Find a solution
  • Take action
  • Follow up

The Blame Game:  Negative Accountability

  • Denial
  • Disengage
  • Blaming others
  • Hide my part
  • Do nothing
  • Ask for specific directions

The Oz Principle: Getting Results through Individual and Organizational Accountability. Connors,Smith and Hickman, Prentice Hall, 1994. “…no portion or element of this website or its Content may be copied, modified, reproduced, posted, or retransmitted via any means. If you would like to seek permission to use information found on this website, please contact our corporate offices at (951) 694-5596.

Trust Building in Teams

Tips on Building Trust and Rapport

  • Showing trust to another person makes it more likely he or she will trust you.
  • Judiciously disclosing personal information or stories demonstrates trust. Be careful to not disclose too much or the other person will feel uncomfortable resulting in distrust.
  • Make eye contact. Occasional eye contact can help someone else feel he or she can trust you.
  • Honor the existing situation. It’s important to show honor and respect for the current state before pushing for change.
  • Show how the self-interests of all parties involved are in alignment. Most people are comfortable trusting someone else to pursue his or her own self-interest.

Working through Conflict: The EVOP Approach

The EVOP approach is a way to have a conversation about an uncomfortable situation. This works best when the intention is to work towards mutually beneficial outcomes. Conflict begins with a glimmering of discomfort.


Say how you feel. Talk about what upset you, describing the behavior of the people involved.

If emotions have been building up, there needs to be some form of letting the steam out. It may be helpful to begin by taking a few breaths, checking in with your own awareness and intention. What result do you want to achieve from this conversation? Once you are clear about your intent, say how you feel and what you are upset about.


Listen, reflect, and paraphrase. Acknowledge their perspective and feelings. Accept their communication style. Allow the other to have their feelings.

Being empathetic too early in an effort to avoid the conflict and make peace before you have been heard often postpones dealing with the issue until feelings are even more intense.


Examine your part in the conflict. Acknowledge what you think you have contributed to the situation.

This begins with mutual understanding. All conflict has two sides. This is where you acknowledge your side. Remaining defensive or believing the other will take advantage of you if you admit your part in the problem gets in the way of being able to take responsibility for your part. Avoid taking total responsibility or automatically assuming “it’s all my fault”. Focus on behavior rather than judgments.


Create an action plan. When you get this far, the plan usually comes naturally. The best plan is one that is about process, “When that happens again let’s agree to talk about it or ”

Promising that neither of you will ever do it again is unrealistic. Promising things that you cannot promise, like what you will think, feel, want, etc. is unrealistic as well.

Final Note: Your primary responsibility is to do your part. You can’t control whether the other party does theirs.

Source: Bastyr University: Leadership Institute of Seattle (LIOS) School of Applied Behavioral Science. 1997-1998. Selected Readings in Conflict Resolution, page 19. [could not locate to determine copyright status]














Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Professionalism by Whatcom Community College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book