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Are you trustworthy?

Do you find that your co-workers are reluctant to rely on you? Are you left out of confidential meetings? Does your supervisor double-check your work or micromanage you? Are you always the last person to find out what everyone else already seems to know?

Workplace trust is essential not only to establish your reputation, but also to build a strong network of people who will help you throughout your career. So if you find yourself in such situations often, it may be time to reflect, to consider whether your own actions are inadvertently causing others to view you as untrustworthy.

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Here are five unintentional behaviours you may be exhibiting that cause others think that you are not to be trusted:

You fail to deliver

You make commitments but don’t seem to be able to follow through and deliver. Sure, your promises are made with the best of intentions – after all, you want to be viewed as a team player – but saying “yes” without ensuring that you have the time and resources to see things through to completion will only set you up to fail. It’s far better to be deliberate and thoughtful about what you can truly get done. If you say you’ll do it, then do it. When you repeatedly miss deadlines or cancel at the last minute, people begin to believe that this is your norm. So underpromise and overdeliver.

You lie

While this may seem obvious, it is easy to slip up. It may seem simpler to tell a small white lie – “Yes, I did that yesterday,” when you only just acted moments before you walked into the meeting – but when your lie is uncovered, your believability will take a beating. Sadly, it doesn’t take more than a few white lies for your credibility to crumble. Similarly, it’s far better to admit you don’t know something than to fake or fumble your way through an answer or solution. Once you lose credibility, you can’t get it back.

You believe that your ideas are always the best

No one likes a know-it-all. If you are not willing to acknowledge that others may have insights or viewpoints that are valuable and worth considering, then you will never build positive relationships with those you work with. Above all, be willing to admit when you’re wrong. Perhaps surprisingly, admitting that you’ve made a mistake actually fosters trust because it demonstrates authenticity and integrity. Authenticity in that you’re human and fallible (just like everyone else) and integrity because it shows that you can be trusted to do the right thing in difficult circumstances.

You’re quick to take credit but slow to give it

This happens more by default than by intention. After all, we tend to be more vocal about things that go well and play down those that don’t. But if you find that your co-workers are putting everything in writing (and copying the boss), it might be a clue that you are guilty of this workplace blunder. So deliberately do the opposite. Find opportunities to praise your peers for their behaviour and actions. Go out of your way to say thank you for a team member’s extra effort. At your next team meeting, actively acknowledge a colleague’s project milestone. When you have something to celebrate, intentionally recognize others who were instrumental in getting you there.

You gossip about others

You may think that a little idle chit-chat about who-said-what, and so-and-so-did-that is simply rapport-building or trivial banter. It isn’t. Office gossip is toxic. Rumours can hurt feelings and damage reputations, so steer clear. If the conversation can be hurtful, or cast negative aspersions, or create conflict, then it’s unquestionably gossip. If the outcome is intrateam cliques or rifts between team members, then it’s definitely gossip.

Ironically, when you engage in gossip, it says more about you than anyone else. If you’re willing to talk about people behind their backs, the person you’re gossiping to is likely wondering what you’ll say about them later. So if you’re frustrated enough with some aspect of your workplace that you need to discuss it, then vent to someone outside your organization, or run the risk of damaging your trustworthiness.

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If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

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