Trust: Take One Dose Daily, It’s Good for Your Spirit

In May 2018, I will celebrate my 40-year anniversary as a registered nurse. As I look back on my years of service, I have had nearly 40 years of working in places where I felt “trusted” and in which I “trusted” my bosses, my team, and myself. In thinking about these years, I realize that there have been only two times in my career when I did not trust my executive leaders.

Those periods, in two different organizations, were the toughest years of my career. The organizations were objectively less stable, and I felt unsupported and under-valued. The result was that I was less free to fully participate in the work I loved and less able to be the best team member I could be.

The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer indicates that while my experiences with low trust environments occurred years ago, the problem is alive and well across industries today. This survey instrument reveals the largest-ever drop in trust across government, business, media, and non-governmental organizations and concludes we have a “global implosion of trust”1.

Working in environments of trust have allowed me to continually grow as a person, a nurse, a leader, and in the last ten years as an executive coach. I believe trust has enabled me to help others grow and become the best versions of themselves. I have been told that I am a happy, energetic, even positive person, and I believe this is true in my both professional and personal life.

What I have come to understand in these later years is that this positive spirit, what some would term “joy,” is likely the result of an enduring work culture that has fostered trust. Researcher Paul Zak in The Neuroscience of Trust has shown that a work culture fostering trust means that Trust and Purpose= Joy2. As I reflect, I have trusted more bosses than not, and, yes, I have always loved my roles and felt they were purposeful. In each role, I have believed what I do is important and needed.

When I am coaching a client on a specific need to establish, restore, or strengthen a relationship these are the most common tips I offer:

  1. First, do a self-assessment on your own “trustworthiness.” A simple tool to guide you can be found in The Thin Book of Trust by Charles Feltman3. (Are you reliable, sincere, competent, and caring?)
  2. Recognize trust is an outcome of a relationship. It is made stronger or eroded with every communication encounter so be mindful in each encounter.
  3. Be specific in your language when attempting to build or restore trust. Avoid inflammatory questions that might provoke a defensive response, e.g., avoid, “I get the feeling you don’t trust me.” Focus your question on specific behavior or actions, such as, ”Yesterday at our meeting I got the feeling you were uncomfortable with something I said or did. Can we talk about that?”

If you believe as I do, that working in a culture of trust, enhanced by a job that is purposeful, you are more likely to experience joy at work, then make a commitment to yourself to be trustworthy and consider what is going on in your workplace.  Is it a place where joy is experienced every day by you and by others?

Do you enjoy your work most days?  Do you trust your boss? How trustworthy are you? Are you a positive, energetic person? Can you identify a causal relationship between you and your ability to trust in your workplace? Please let me know your thoughts in the Comments below; we always enjoy hearing what you have to say!


  1. Edelman, D. (January, 2017) Edelman Trust Barometer blog post,
  2. Zak, P. (January-February, 2017). The neuroscience of trust. Harvard Business Review.
  3. Feltman, C. (2011). The Think Book of Trust: An essential primer for building trust at work. Thin Book Publishing Co; Bend, OR.


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