Video: The 3 Components of Building Trust

When trust is broken – internally in the workplace, with customers, or in relationships – it is far more difficult to get results and build deeper connections. You end up in an ineffective loop that leads nowhere. And sometimes – you don’t even know why trust was broken in the first place. The problem is, building trust is no easy task. Where do you start, especially when trust has been broken?

In this Ted Talk, Frances Frei, Harvard Business School Professor, makes the case that trust is the most important element of all in business and in life, “Trust is the foundation for everything we do, and if we can learn to trust one another more, we can have unprecedented human progress.”

Frei gives a 15-minute crash course on how to build, maintain, and rebuild trust, using the three components required in building trusting relationships:

  • Authenticity
  • Logic
  • Empathy

She says, “When all three of these things are working, we have great trust. But if any one of these three gets shaky, if any one of these three wobbles, trust is threatened.” The tricky thing is, any of these three components can start to wobble at the drop of a hat. Breaking trust can come from something as simple as: 

An employee stops trusting their supervisor when they break a promise.

A child has a hard time trusting their parent because they are using their smartphone every time they are in a conversation.

A relationship suffers when one side says something insincere (you can always tell!)

A client loses trust after a meeting where the vendor was distracted and unfocused.

The reason for a trust breach can, of course, be more complicated and profound, such as: A company faces a trust breach when their CEO is tied to sexual misconduct or their customers’ security is violated.

Losing trust can take many different forms and mistrust can be cued at any moment without realizing it. It’s important to become more aware of your words and actions to make sure you’re being authentic, logical, and empathetic – and building trust in the process.

Frei ends by addressing the leaders in the room, emphasizing the importance of their roles and how they have the power to set the attitude of trust on their teams. “It is your obligation to set the conditions that not only make it safe for us to be authentic but make it welcome, make it celebrated and cherish it for exactly what it is, which is the key for us achieving greater excellence than we have ever known is possible.”

Watch this 15-minute Ted Talk for the full crash course on building and maintaining trust:

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Melissa Eisler

Melissa Eisler, MA, PCC, is an ICF certified executive coach. She partners with leaders to develop their systems thinking, resilience, strategic communication skills, and executive presence in order to reach individual, team, and organizational goals. She blends more than 15 years of experience in leadership positions in the corporate world, with her master’s degree in organizational leadership and extensive background in mindfulness to help her clients master their leadership skills and steer their teams through challenges and change. Learn more about Melissa here.


  1. Suruj on September 23, 2019 at 11:03 pm

    Nice Article.Keep it up. Thank You.

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Melissa is the founder and executive coach at Wide Lens Leadership and a Partner at Evolution. As an ICF Certified Executive Coach with a Master's degree in organizational leadership, Melissa has coached hundreds of leaders ranging from C-suite to entrepreneur, from Fortune 500 companies to startups, and across diverse industries. Her work focuses on helping high-performing senior leaders and their teams magnify impact by building trust, collaboration, accountability, and healthy communication skills.