11 reasons your colleagues don’t trust you

It’s not easy to establish a good relationship with your colleagues. Becoming friends is one thing, but earning their trust and respect takes time, effort, and a little adversity.

Work life

PHOTO: Ingimage

It’s not easy to establish a good relationship with your colleagues. Becoming friends is one thing, but earning their trust and respect takes time, effort, and a little adversity. The reason some of us have a tough time gelling with our coworkers is that we make it impossible for them to relax around us. Despite our best intentions, everything we do either annoys them or arouses their suspicion.

Can’t figure out why your colleagues don’t trust you? Read on.

1. You throw them under the bus
To throw someone under the bus means to sacrifice another person’s well-being for your personal gain, especially if that person is more vulnerable than you. Have you ever deflected the blame for a failed project on one of your coworkers? Or told the boss that the reason you’re not getting any work done is that your colleagues are distracting you? Or most annoyingly of all, written a team email highlighting their mistakes and CC’d everyone, including the boss? Even if you’re right, you’ll look like the office Judas. The next time your boss scolds you for missing a deadline, just say you’re sorry (even though it’s your teammate’s fault for messing up his part.) After all, your boss expects you to look out and compensate for your teammates’ mistakes.

2. You’re not very committed
People don’t trust flakes. If you’re constantly skipping team meetings, turn in half-hearted work, or talk about how other companies have things so much better, you’re going to look like that person who will bail at a moment’s notice. Reliability is one of the hallmarks of trust, so show your coworkers that they can depend on you to do your part.

3. You don’t keep people in the loop when it counts
Whether you do it maliciously or you’re just spaced out, for whatever reason, you keep leaving your colleagues out of meetings, emails, and work-related news. Your colleagues feel quite angry (not to mention stupid) when they realise that you knew an important update two weeks without telling them. To earn your colleagues’ trust, make the effort to tighten lines of communication. It can be as simple as inviting them to lunch and making sure they are CC’d on important emails. You can even start a group chat on WhatsApp to keep everyone abreast of updates. You might feel a little self-conscious “spamming” people with info, but at the end of the day, they’ll appreciate your mindfulness.

4. You do their work behind their back
Nothing induces a colleague’s rage like completing her work without her permission. You might think that you’re being helpful, but your “generosity” comes across as patronising. By doing her work, you’re showing that you don’t believe that she’s capable of doing a good job on her own. And why would anyone trust you when you clearly don’t trust them in the first place?

5. You’re not upfront when you have a problem
In Asian workplaces, people tend to skirt around conflict instead of approaching it directly. But let’s say a project goes badly. Your boss and colleagues aren’t going to be very happy when they find out that you had a problem with it all along, but kept it to yourself because you were too shy to voice your opinion. It’s better to bring up problems early than let your frustration build over time.

6. You’re too gossipy
Nobody likes – let alone trusts – a nosy person. Picture yourself at a lunch table. Are you the first to bring up how weird a new colleague is? Do you scoot in your chair and ask people to pipe up when they start dishing on a gossipy piece of news? Being the first to offer an inside scoop might make you feel important, but it’s an ultimately selfish way to make friends. Besides, no one’s going to trust you after they see how readily you broadcast other people’s business.

7. You complain about everything
Likewise, having a negative outlook on the world will make it hard for people to trust you because you seem like someone who’s easily demoralised. Think of yourselves as a squadron. People trust squad leaders who are tenacious and determined, not leaders who whine all the time. Not everyone has a naturally happy temperament, but everyone has the capacity to be an encouraging presence, not a toxic one.


8. You’re selfish
You book all the good vacation days for your annual leave before letting anyone have a chance. You surprise the boss on his birthday with an expensive Godiva chocolate cake in front of everyone – and without bothering to include any of your colleagues in the surprise. You arrive late and leave early. You’ve never offered to help your colleagues shoulder the burden when they’re overloaded with assignments. And during holiday parties, you spend three times the recommended amount for a gift. Sure, you might fancy yourself an overachiever, but people just see you as a “spoil market” colleague.  You don’t necessarily screw people over, but at the same time, you’re too concerned with your own success to consider helping others succeed.

9. You have destructive lifestyle habits
You smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, you drink until you pass out, and you play Guild Wars until 4 am on weeknights. You’re also juggling a wife and a mistress, and regularly skip lunch because you’re entrenched in credit card debt. In theory, people’s personal business should remain separate from their work, but few people will trust you with a project when you maintain such a volatile lifestyle.

10. You’re a lone wolf
You’re cold, inaccessible, and aloof. You almost never accept invitations to lunch and you’ve never bothered asking your colleagues how their work is going. Yeah, maybe you’re an introvert or not too concerned with making friends, but even the most introverted people still have the capacity to care about others – even if that means approaching them one by one instead of as a group. Nobody is too good for other people. If you find that you have no lunch buddies in the office and are completely out of touch with the buzz at work, then take the initiative to befriend somebody.

11. You are incompetent, period
Sorry, but your work is so terrible, that your colleagues would rather pass their duties to an intern than you. Ask your boss to give you an honest evaluation of your work and take steps to improve. Otherwise, you might also consider that you’re in the wrong job and that you need to move somewhere that’s a better fit for your talents in personality. 

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