This post is part of our Weekly Tips series.

When it comes to personal risk-taking, most professionals operate in the mode of “less is more”—consciously or otherwise. That’s too bad, because there is no trust without personal risk.

Here are six ways you can take risks to build trust with your clients and colleagues. I’ve ordered them by most to least provocative, based on how participants in my workshops typically respond when I suggest them:

  1. Be willing to express your own emotions. “Gee, Johannes, I must confess to feeling pretty frustrated by what you just said” or “You have no idea how happy I am to hear that!”
  2. Acknowledge uncomfortable situations … out loud. “Wow, this is awkward” or “I wish I had better news” or “The timing with this is embarrassing.”
  3. Share something personal. “My weekend was great, Surita, thanks for asking. My parents were in town, and Sam and I really enjoyed the babysitting they offered. We got a much-needed break.”

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  1. Be proactive about reducing ambiguity. “Hmmmm … I’m not sure how to interpret your silence.”
  2. Deliver difficult messages promptly and concisely. “We’re not going to make the deadline” or “We just don’t have the executive sponsorship we need.” (For best results, start with a caveat.)
  3. Take responsibility for mistakes. “Janet, part of the problem here is that I failed to meet my commitments.”

Caution: If you think you can’t or shouldn’t do one or more of these because you don’t have enough trust in the relationship for the risk to be tolerated, think again. The very act of risking creates trust.

That’s the bummer and the beauty of risk-taking.

Make It Real

This week, reflect on your risk-taking patterns. Keep a very short daily log of opportunities you seized and those you avoided or lost—either at work, at home, or both. At the end of the week, look for patterns or themes. What do you see?

Learn More

Download the no-strings-attached eBook to learn more about these six risks or complete the “Risk-Taking as a Matter of Practice” worksheet in Chapter 9 of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook.

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Andrea Howe

As the founder of The Get Real Project, I am the steward of our vision and our service offerings, as well as a workshop leader and keynote speaker. Above all else, I am an entrepreneur on a mission: to kick conventional business wisdom to the curb and transform how people work together as a result. I am also the co-author, with Charles H. Green, of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook (Wiley, 2012).