< Back to blog

Insight Eight: Trust-Neutral Interactions. No Such Thing.

corporate hallway

Every Interaction is an Opportunity to Build—or Breakdown—Trust

If you're not thinking of every interaction as an opportunity to build trust, you may be getting in your own way.

There are no "trust-neutral interactions”.

I first heard this phrase in 2005 at a Great Place to Work annual conference from Brooke Huston, the then VP of Consulting. Brooke was on a panel where she was

asked what if any silver bullets companies on the journey might consider. Her answer has stayed with me all this time. All interactions (yes all!) either build or tear down trust – there is no such thing as a trust-neutral interaction.

Want a great place to work with great business results? Start with trust.

Trust at work is one of the clearest drivers of company success. High trust organizations have lower turnover, stronger innovations, and better business results across the board. For the last 30 years, Great Places to Work® survey data has pointed to this theme. Trust is clearly a very important aspect of building a strong organization.

Building trust may be a no brainer, but building it takes time and effort, mostly because it happens one interaction at a time.

Processes and planning are not what create trust. Trust is built in the way you interact with others – through the quality of in-person discussions, over email, the phone, even voicemail. Even more unexpectedly, trust can be won or lost when you’re sharing an elevator, walking next to someone in the parking lot, casually crossing paths in the hall, or in how you show up at the company barbecue.

Make it easier on yourself!

What if you consider every single interaction you have with others as an opportunity to build trust? Not just the obvious ones, but literally, every interaction. Operate as if there is no such thing as a trust-neutral interaction. You’re either making a deposit in your trust account or making a withdrawal.

Try this:

Obviously it is important to deliver on the big stuff: be truthful, trustworthy, and deliver on your promises. But take care with the passing interactions too.

Use everyday communications to build trust.

  • Add an extra word or two to an email that demonstrates warmth, positive intention, or a personal connection.
  • Make eye contact as you pass or share space with others. Look up, smile, say hello, check in, say thanks, pay attention, and show gratitude.
  • While you’re leaving a voicemail, smile. It will affect your word choice and cadence.
  • Be authentically genial and kind.

Interact with others as if there are no trust-neutral interactions, work to build your trust account, and as others begin to respond in kind, the strength of your organization will build too.


Meet our coaches


Awaken the leader within

Our sole purpose at Leadership Landing is to help leaders awaken great leadership within themselves and their organizations. Often that process starts with an idea.  Our blog explores questions and ideas that leaders face through the lens of the Five Attributes of Great Leadership. Come explore with us »

Recent Posts