Is lack of trust hurting your business opportunities?

Is lack of trust hurting your business opportunities?

Trust is inherently tied to how humans interact. | iStock/Mark Airs
Trust is inherently tied to how humans interact. | iStock/Mark Airs

Trust takes years to build, seconds to break and even more years to repair. Humans as social beings, form bonds, alliances and strengthen group relationships based on many factors. A couple of which includes improved access to resources, security, companionship and business, etc.

For commerce and business to thrive and for persons to get value for their investments, time and efforts; their partners, collaborators and clients need to be sure that what they all agree upon would be carried out. This applies to all human class alike.

Imagine a case where you agreed on terms of dealings with a close friend. Both of you shook hands and were excited about it. A week later, they totally turn around to do something entirely different from the agreed terms. How does it sound? Absurd? outrageous? I mean you can literally feel a breakdown of that relationship and every possible future dealings. Simply disastrous.

You see, a lack of trust hurts everything. It hurts business, relationships and even social development.

How? simple. Trust is inherently tied to how humans interact. It takes more than just understanding how a business would run: parties must be sure that what they have agreed upon will actually be done.

The Beginnings

Historically, this was what led to the creation of legal contracts. This ‘device’ was more often than not in writing, signed and sealed by the parties.

In addition, people developed specific clauses that crystallized the need for trust. The Latin term uberrimae fidae (meaning – utmost good faith) was usually inserted into contracts to ensure that parties kept to the terms of the contract.

Problems of trust and risk were counteracted in other ways as well; an example is bank loan contracts that contain clauses for the commercialization of the borrower’s property. This would ensure that if the borrower is unable to pay, the lender would not lose out entirely.

Trust is inherently tied to how humans interact.

Why do we need Trust?

So, why do we need to be trustworthy in business? The more trustworthy you are, the more likely your partners, clients and customers would be willing to work with you and use your services. How trust works has been explained as: “On the individual level, you trust an individual to do something based on what you know of his disposition, his ability, his reputation and so forth not merely because he says he will do it”. On the collective level, if you don’t trust an agency or organization with which the individual is affiliated, you will not trust him to fulfill an agreement.

In addition, individuals consider the background, culture, and social system of another when seeking to determine whether to trust them.

Our Society and Trust

Are we a trustworthy society? Are we known for a culture and social system of honesty and integrity? It is only if we realize the importance of changing the perception of trust (whatever you take it to be) that we can be the kind of society we ought to be.

Howbeit, this can only happen if we think it important enough.

I would define trust as the oil that lubricates the gears of commerce. Now, imagine what those gears look like without trust and then imagine what they can look like if we develop a culture of trust and honesty in our dealings with each other. This would have far-reaching implications for our communities and national development, in my view. Maybe you should take the time to think about what the effect of being trustworthy in your line of endeavour would bring about. The interesting thing is that you can influence that outcome if you can think it.

Why don’t people trust you?

Below are some ways your actions are causing people not to trust you.

1.) You are inconsistent. You can say one thing and then say a completely different thing soon afterwards. Great effort is needed to stick to what we say because unforeseen events happen. If something unforeseen happens, exceptions can be made but in the main, keeping to your word fosters a sense of trust for you in others because they know you will keep your word.

2.) You work and do business with the singular aim of making a profit. Of course, the primary aim of commerce is to make a profit but you can make it much more than that. You can establish a cordial-not-necessarily-friendly-relationship with the people you work with. When folks feel they are appreciated and given due regard, they would likely want to work with you again.

3.) You do not communicate enough. If you keep the lines of communication open and are available to answer questions that your clients or associates have, this would work to clear up any ambiguities that they have. The knowledge that you are there and open for discussion would foster a sense of availability and reliability about you.

How to make yourself trustworthy

Finally, below are few things you can do to be perceived as trustworthy.
1.)  Always listen to what people have to say.
2.)  Genuinely put yourself in the shoes of the other person. Try to understand things from their perspective.
3.) Be open and let people know you are ready to answer their questions and assuage their fears and concerns.
4.) If you seem not to be able to agree on something, let it go. Not every proposed deal must become a business. Sometimes you are unable to come to a conclusion but that is perfectly fine.
5.) Take down notes and pay attention to details. This makes people see how important you value their opinions.
6.) Be consistent with your actions and speech. Endeavour to always have your yes be a yes.

I would love to also see what you think about trust.

Please drop a comment so we can interact and share more thoughts. Thank you.


  1. Lovely article. Spot on with why people don’t trust.. Number 6 especially is where most people are found wanting.
    A very good read.

    • Thank you Yetunde! I wish more and more folks would realise how different our society would look if we did so!


    • I really appreciate this Dami. You and I should co-author something one day self! I’m taking a look at your article right away.


  2. Nice to read about Trust in relation to business (not marriage and relationship☺️ all the time). So many businesses have collapsed on account of trust issues. Mistrust among business owners; mistrust between owners and their suppliers and customers. Coming to law practice, many would have been great partnership law firms crumbled due to trust issues among the partners. Without trust people live in suspicion and doubt. Social relationship can even be managed where there’s distrust, but business relationships inevitably gets destroyed.

    After capital the next most important factor in the success of every business is trust. Trust creates reliability; makes you credit worthy and generally gives you goodwill. Just like your definition of trust, which I found very witty and apt, trust is the oil that lubricates the gears of commerce.

    Cheers to your new blog. I hope it becomes one of the most widely read on business ethics.

    • Wow! Thank you for this robust comment Chi; I am very grateful. I do think that folks are unable to really see how important it is-I wish they would so that the potential that we all have can finally be unlocked.

      Thank you for your kind wishes Counsel.


    • Thank you, Ruth! Yes, I agree: everyone deserves respect and that (to a large degree) is what makes people feel appreciated.