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Home > Crew Matters > Trust.


The subject of trust is relevant to everyone, in any role and any industry. It is the basis of our personal relationships and our working relationships. Businesses rise and fall on trust and high-performance teams eat, sleep and breathe a culture of high trust and mutual accountability.

So, what do you do to build trust and how do you rebuild it once it has been eroded?

We are all a feeling a bit fragile at the moment as we battle changes to our lives which are beyond and outside our control and that can mean that we expose some of our fears and frustrations in our behaviours. When we ‘behave badly’ it can create a feeling of mistrust in others and then we get into a negative spiral of deteriorating relationships which makes it even harder for us to feel secure and in control of our own destinies.

Let me share some practical information to help us to identify the key components of trust and to learn how to re-build it once lost.

Think about the person you trust the most, how do you feel about them? What is it about them that makes you feel that way?

Trust is defined as the willingness to be vulnerable based on your perceptions of someone’s trustworthiness. Chances are that you feel that the person you trust the most is entirely worthy of that because of their behaviours, their actions, the way they are with you and the way that they treat you, right?

Trustworthiness is a firm and positive belief in someone’s ability, their integrity, their goodness and their reliability. Sound familiar? So that person you trust most in the world will likely share your values, have your back and be there when you need them.

Interesting fact about trust in working teams;

50% of people who distrust their senior leaders are considering leaving the team and…

62% report unreasonable levels of stress

 Does that surprise you?

Trust isn’t just a nice to have, it’s essential in working teams because teams comprise of people and people have relationships, be they purely professional or personal they all require trust. In yachting our relationships are always more complex because you are not just crew mates, you are also house mates and you serve each other. The relationships are more like family, sometimes dysfunctional…!

There are four elements of trust which can be the making or the breaking of a team and they are;

A: Able

B: Believable

C: Connected

D: Dependable

Able suggests that we trust those who are competent in their role. That might be in their parental role, their friend role or their colleague role. In the case of a colleague or a leader we expect people to know what they are talking about and to have the skills to deliver on their responsibilities and for leaders to be able to manage and lead fairly and effectively.

Are you, or the people you need to trust, fulfilling that aspect of the relationship?

Believable is about honesty, values and fairness. Are you being your authentic self or are you faking it? We can always tell, at some deeper subconscious level, when people are not being true to themselves or being honest with us. Sometimes we choose not to let that subconscious knowledge come into our consciousness because we desperately want to believe that they are good. Invariably the truth will come out and the trust will be eroded.

Does that sound familiar when you consider your less trusting working or personal relationships?

Connected requires us to connect human to human, to be compassionate, show empathy and communicate well with one another. Creating rapport and building genuine connection with others really helps us to feel safe and secure in that relationship. Sometimes when we share our own vulnerability with others and are willing to self-disclose, it forms a stronger bond that we might have expected. This is why, because it is an element of trust.

Are you truly connected? Are your colleagues, friends and partnerships invested in you? Are you really interested in them?

Dependable such a simple thing and yet so important to us all, to know that we can rely on the people in our lives, that they are accountable for their own actions and that they are open and responsive to us and what we need from them.

Are you a reliable friend, crew mate or partner?

Another interesting fact;

Committed and engaged team members who trust their leaders perform 20% better and are 87% less likely to leave.

High-trust teams experience 50% less turnover than low-trust environments.

How do you rebuild trust when it has been eroded?

  • Acknowledge
  • Apologise
  • Act


Which element(s) of trust have been broken? Identifying that is the first step, then, where you have responsibility for the broken trust, admit your mistakes. Ask for their side of the story, listen to their perspective with empathy, which means to understand why they feel the way they do, without judgment.


Be sincere in your remorse, genuine heartfelt apologies are hard to dismiss. The tick box ‘I apologise’ statement said without feeling is likely to have the opposite effect and erode trust further.

Say ‘I’m sorry’ rather than ‘I apologise’. Don’t use conditional language like ‘if, but, you should have’ in your apology. All of those words and phrases undermine the intention and lessen the power of your meaning. Ask for a fresh start, share your hopes for rebuilding trust and getting your relationship back on track.


Agree together how you are going to move forward and what you need from each other to make this work. Make sure you set time aside to check in with each other to see how you’re doing and to make any adjustments as you go.

We are all in the same storm but we are not all in the same boat. Have some compassion for one another and recognise and forgive some of the behaviours that may be caused by frustration, exhaustion, stress and anxiety. We can make it easier for each other by remembering that, with trust, we are more able to be resilient because we are ‘stronger together’.

Stay safe, Sara x

Sara Ballinger

Managing Partner