#1 killer of trust in teams…and what to do about it.

We’ve worked with hundreds of teams in different parts of the world. They all share many things in common. One in particular has stood out to us.

Regardless of geography, industry, or function, the #1 killer of trust in those teams is the same:


Have you ever been the brunt of gossip? Have you missed a lunch or an after-hours with your colleagues…only to discover later that the topic of their conversation was you?

Or, have you slipped into talking about others behind their backs?

It’s easy to do.

Disappointments, frustrations, and let downs come with the territory of relationships. When these things happen, it can seem safer to confide in others, rather than confronting the person who’s set you back or caused you pain.

The problem is, when you talk only about – rather than with – people who’ve let you down, frustrated you, and broken your trust, you set up a dynamic that can only fuel further distrust. Mounting, unaddressed issues that get funneled into the grapevine turn into major problems and conflicts later on. We’ve all experienced issues that grow out or proportion. The result? Devastating impact on your team’s relationships, moral, and performance. Relationships break down.

The bottom line is, no value comes from gossip.

What happens when you summon the courage to talk directly to people about your issues and concerns?

You receive many gifts, among them:

Greater awareness.

Talking directly with people who’ve disappointed you and broken your trust allows you to discover ‘the why’ of their actions. What mitigating circumstances are at play? Are there stresses you don’t know about? A bigger picture you’re not aware of? You gain perspective.

Or – most importantly – are they even aware their actions have impacted you negatively? In our experience, 90% of the time people compromise trust, they aren’t even aware they’ve done so.

Deeper compassion.

Giving people the opportunity to explain ‘their side’ opens the door to compassion. Instead of seeing the person as that person who did/said ‘x’, you can begin to see him as you would want him to see you: as a real, whole human being who’s navigating life’s complexities and challenges as well as possible.

Learning and growth.

Having direct conversations about sensitive issues creates powerful opportunities for you to learn and grow. How so?

Consider, where can you learn the most powerful lessons? The relationship in which collaboration is clicking? Or, the relationship that’s derailed your ability to tap into the best of what you have to offer? No matter how ‘in the wrong’ the other person may seem, broken trust is a two-way street.

We each always have room to learn and grow in how we show up in our relationships with one another. Developing the discipline to talk directly with one another when we misstep is the single the best thing we can do to improve teamwork.


The greatest gift you give yourself through avoiding gossip? Strengthening your own trustworthiness! When people see you turning away from the rumor mill, they’ll notice and respect the standard you’ve set for yourself. Their confidence in you will grow, because they’ll know they can trust you to have hard conversations in the moments that matter most.

Are you curious about how your habits may be impacting trust in your relationships at work?

We’ve developed a quiz just for you. It’s based on our statistically reliable and valid trust assessments. People are telling us there’s nothing else like it! In just 60 seconds, you’ll get a wealth of tips and steps to strengthen your most valuable asset – your trustworthiness.

Yours in trust,
Dennis Reina

Posted in Relationships, Teamwork.