Gaining Trust

“And that’s the way it is:  Friday March 6, 1981.”  So ended Walter Cronkite’s last broadcast of the evening news on CBS.  It’s hard to believe that a journalist was once considered to be the most trusted man in America.

It was Walter Cronkite who announced the death of President Kennedy.  After a trip to Vietnam during the war, Walter Cronkite reported on how hopeless the war effort seemed.  President Lyndon Jonson is reported to have said:  “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.”  Several weeks later, President Johnson announced he would not seek re-election.

Over his career, Walter Cronkite reported on World War II.  He was on board a B-17 plane reporting on bombing raids over Germany.  He was present at the Battle of the Bulge.  After the war, he reported on the Nuremberg trials.  He was present at all of the Apollo space missions.  He reported on the Iran Hostage Crisis and reminded the nation each day how long Americans were being held in captivity.  He has been given credit for making the Watergate break-in a major news event, ultimately resulting in the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

Walter Cronkite was often referred to as Uncle Walter by average Americans.  Many thought of him as a member of their family.

How does a person become so trusted?  Gaining the trust of others is one of our most essential aspirations.  There are several essential steps to gaining trust.

  1. Be honest in every aspect of your life. Honesty in this case refers to our actions, our words, our values, and our emotions.
  2. Always do what you promise. This requires a no excuses attitude and a commitment to fulfilling your promise at the time you promised.
  3. Be consistent in the quality of your work.
  4. Respect others and do not engage in anything that will harm them. Make others comfortable with you.
  5. Be aware of your own strengths and limitations. You need to be aware of what you can and can’t do.
  6. Reach out to others to see how you can help them.
  7. Avoid promoting yourself and limit the indulgence of your ego.
  8. Be a good communicator so others will understand what you are saying and also know that you are listening to them.

Gaining trust can take a long time.  The trust that Walter Cronkite had was shaped over many years of reporting.  In the same way, trust can be lost in an instant.  Gaining trust can’t be faked.  It has to be built on personal values that are shaped at an early age.

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“Trust is the highest form of human motivation.  It brings out the very best in people.  But it takes time and patience.”

-Stephen Covey (Author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People)

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