Building Higher Trust 116 Trust is a Marathon

March 16, 2023

Building trust between people is a never-ending process.  There is no finish line.  Managers who attempt to build higher trust with short-term programs or gimmicks are usually disappointed in the end.

Trust between people is similar to the concept of love.  You never stop investing in the relationship.  Recognize there will be times of setbacks, so you want to have as much trust equity to draw on as possible.

The marathon has no finish line

The concept of a race with no finish line is difficult to imagine, but that is exactly what is going on with trust. When we engage in building a relationship of trust, we keep putting one foot in front of the other forever. This process sounds exhausting until you realize the benefits you accrue all along the route.

Benefits of the marathon

I will list a few of the benefits you gain when investing in higher trust with another person. A full list is impossible because it is really infinite. Let’s take a look at some of the obvious benefits.

  1. Better communication. When you have a relationship of trust, you do not need to encode your messages with spin. You can be your authentic self and know your messages are not only heard but understood. If there is any doubt, the other person will ask for clarification.
  2. Improved alignment. You and the other person will align in terms of the shared vision. This benefit happens naturally because you are both viewing the world through the same prism. The result is higher empowerment because there is no gap in understanding.
  3. Less tension. Both of you have the blessing of spending your time in harmonic appreciation. The world is a more joyful place to be.
  4. Support when needed. You both can feel the benefit of having someone who is on your side, no matter what is going on. That confidence is a huge blessing when things get messy.  
  5. Productivity will be higher. Several studies have shown the relationship between trust and productivity. An environment of high trust is two to five times more productive than a low trust situation. There is no time lost in bickering and no need to circle back with justifications.
  6. A real environment, with no games. In a high-trust culture, you have a strong feeling that what is unfolding in front of you is real. People are not playing games with each other.

It is easy to see why smart leaders are willing to put in the effort of the trust marathon. For one thing, life gets easier rather than more difficult. The improved culture is well worth the effort to keep running.


Picture the process of building and maintaining trust as a marathon. You never reach the finish line, but why would you want to? The benefits are so overwhelming, you would be a fool to take any other path.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust.  He is the author of The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, and Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind.  Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations

Body Language 64 Hand Slap

January 24, 2020

The hand slap is a gesture that is normally exchanged between friends. It often takes place in two parts, especially if both parties are standing.

First the individuals slap their hands together at shoulder height or above (this is known as a “high five”), then one individual puts the same hand at waist level palm up and the other person slaps it with his palm down.

For this gesture to work as intended, it is imperative that both people have the palm of one hand engaged in the exchange. If a person slaps another person anywhere on the body without palm-to-palm contact, it is almost universally interpreted as a put down: like “a slap in the face.”

It is also possible to have both hands involved in the gesture. Some people prefer that method but the meaning is the same regardless of whether it is one or both hands.

There are numerous examples of when a hand slap might be the appropriate gesture to use. Let’s examine several situations and discuss how the slap works as a congratulatory gesture.

Cheering on a runner

Imagine your spouse is a runner in a marathon. You are standing on the sidelines, and there is so much cheering, your mate would never pick out your voice. But as she passes by you, she gives you a hand slap gesture as a thank you for your support.

An example in the work setting would be a worker completing a difficult assignment ahead of the due date. The manager might give this person a welcoming high five.

After a supervisor makes a great welcoming speech

Suppose a supervisor has just given an amazing onboarding talk to a group of 15 new hires. It is well known that getting new employees off to an excellent start emotionally does wonders for their successful incorporation into the organization. The manager, who was watching the training gives the supervisor a high five as he walks to the back of the room.

A speaker comes off stage

The person waiting in the wings gives the hand slap gesture as a way to indicate the speaker nailed the presentation. No words need be said for the meaning to come through loud and clear.

Manufacturing team does a product change in record time

Suppose a group of employees on a packaging line has taken on the challenge to make product changes more efficient. They try several new ideas and come up with a way to get the job done in half the time it normally takes. The supervisor does a high five with all of the team members as a way to congratulate them.

Slapping yourself

If a person slaps himself, it is normally a gesture of frustration rather than congratulations. Most often a person will slap herself on the forehead with the palm of her hand to indicate that she just made a bone-head move.

The only frustrating part of the hand slap gesture is if one person wants to do the two part variety but the other person only participates in the first half of the gesture. The cure for that kind of awkward situation is to take your cue from the other person. If you see no sign of the second half at waist high, then don’t offer it.

On flip side, if the other person sticks out her hand waist high with palm up, it is an indication that she wants to do the full double hand slap. You need to be alert to pick up the desire of the other person in real time.

This is a part in a series of articles on “Body Language” by Bob Whipple “The Trust Ambassador.”