In my recent webinar I asked for questions from the audience and Claudia asked about a great topic: trust. As she mentioned, if your audience doesn't trust you, you will be lucky if they will open your email or meet with you, let alone respond in a helpful way to what you have to say. So, how to build trust?


Focus on identifying and dealing with the root cause before you move forward – carefully. Here are a few ideas for doing that:


Identify the root cause


If someone doesn't trust you, there is no point trying to make progress. You need to understand why they don't and deal with that first. Here are some questions to ask yourself:


  • Who don't they trust: you, your team or your organisation?
  • What happened that led them to stop trusting?
  • Did they have a bad experience, did the last project you work on fail, are they concerned about honesty?
  • Is it a relationship issue or a performance issue?


Deal with the root cause as a separate issue


Once you know what has caused the lack of trust, if at all possible, deal with that as a separate issue so you don't contaminate the main ‘thing' you want to progress.


If you only have one opportunity to communicate with the person or people in question, then deal with it first. Here are some ideas to help with that:


  • Ask someone who knows the other party well to learn more about what matters to them and where there are common interests.
  • Ask someone who has good standing to help you work through the problem either for you or with you.
  • Don't be afraid to ‘hug the elephant' and raise the problem with honesty, integrity and without blame while also taking responsibility for any part you have had in causing the problem.
  • Explain how you will act differently in future and deliver on it.


Move forward carefully


Once you are comfortable that you have made sufficient progress in resolving the trust issue, consider moving forward with the thing you need to communicate about.


When doing so, be mindful of addressing any concerns they may have, listen and watch VERY carefully while also over communicating and over delivering.


Their trust will be much harder, if not impossible, to earn back if you lose it again.


REFERENCE: Building or rebuilding Trust, by Michael Hyatt.


Keywords: building trust




I love what I do.

I help senior leaders and their teams prepare high-quality papers and presentations in a fraction of the time.

This involves 'nailing' the message that will quickly engage decision makers in the required outcome.

I leverage 25+ years' experience including

  • learning structured thinking techniques at McKinsey in Hong Kong in the mid 1990s before coaching and training their teams globally as a freelancer for a further 15 years
  • being approved to teach the Pyramid Principle by Barbara Minto in 2009
  • helping CEOs, C-suite leaders and their reports deeply understand their stakeholder needs and communicate accordingly
  • seeing leaders cut the number of times they review major papers by ~30% and teams cut the amount of time they take to prepare major papers by ~20%*
  • watching senior meetings focus on substantive discussions and better decisions rather than trying to clarify the issue

My approach helps anyone who needs to engage senior leaders and Boards.

Recent clients include 7Eleven, KPMG, Mercer, Meta, Woolworths.

Learn more at


(*) Numbers are based on 2023 client benchmarking results.