Nine Ways To Build Trust And Overcome Pushback In The Workplace


Expert Panel, Forbes Coaches Council

Top business and career coaches from Forbes Coaches Council offer firsthand insights on leadership

A workplace should have a diverse range of professionals working there, providing unique perspectives and experiences. Usually, such a combination produces more well-rounded discussions, a more inclusive workplace environment and better-balanced products. However, as you add more people into a group, you will occasionally encounter pushback between professionals on how things should get done: Everyone has their preferred ways of doing things, and they don’t always gel.

Whether talking about the dynamic between individuals or teams, pushback is a natural part of the growing process. One of the most effective approaches for getting past pushback is to build trust. Below, members of Forbes Coaches Council outline their most effective strategies for building trust to overcome barriers. Here’s what they advise:

Members discuss a few ways you can build trust and get past pushback in the workplace.

Members discuss a few ways you can build trust and get past pushback in the workplace.


1. Explore Possibilities

The “what if?” question is an underused technology in leadership conversations today. When people only consider their current state, and don’t allow themselves to rise above it for a moment and dream about possibilities, they tend to defend the status quo. Give them permission to dream for a moment, ask “What if” questions to explore the possibilities, and it will free the conversation. – Aric Wood, XPLANE

2. Use Humor

You can always earn trust by giving something vulnerable to others. This will sound funny, but humor is the quickest and most impactful way to earn trust in a vulnerable way. Think of the physical response for laughing. The chin rises exposing the neck. This primitive response is equal to immediate acceptance. Bring a cheesy joke to start your next conversation and you’ll always be glad you did. – Brian Harman, Business Management Hallmark

3. Look At It From A Different Perspective

It always helps to understand the position from someone else’s perspective. We all come from different backgrounds, so it’s important to meet people where they are. To do this, you might need to break down your own barriers and your own pushback to reach someone else. We rarely consider our own pushback to dealing with another person’s pushback. – Catie Harris, NursePreneurs

4. Reassure Them

Clients are sometimes resistant to change because they are afraid of the uncertainty that comes with trusting someone else. Reassure your clients that you are completely bought into their success. Ease their apprehension by reminding them of their goals and how your expertise is suited to aide in their success. Most importantly be consistent in your willingness to both listen and deliver results. – Latasha Weatherspoon Bailey, The Lifted Lifestyle®

5. Approach From The Opposite Direction

I find a great way to engage teams and build trust amongst themselves is to approach a challenging issue from the opposite direction. For example, if we want to build trust, I will have the team look at what we could do if we wanted to lose trust. We identify the behaviors and the opposites, rank them in importance and then rank the team against them. This leads to candid conversation and solutions. – Michael Vann, The Vann Group

6. Help Them Notice Their Resistance

One of the most powerful ways of dealing with pushback is asking the client why they hired you. It’s a subtler way of reminding them what they want from you. Often, it powerfully redirects them internally to notice their own resistance and it dissolves on the spot. Another approach is to share your own experience in a similar situation. The client sees she is not alone and is more open. – Rebecca T. Dickson,Rebecca T. Dickson

7. Talk About Trust

An effective way past the pushback is to sit down with the individual or the team and ask, “Do you trust yourself?” Then ask, “Do you trust me?” Whatever the answer, pay attention to what is said. Why? Because the truth will set you free from the block, and any leader willing to create a safe space to have the tough conversations will begin to build credibility and respect with their team. – Kamille Soler,The Ultimate LYFE

8. Communicate Openly And Be Consistent

Openness, communication and consistent behavior build trust, and trust equals consistent behavior over time. People tend to trust what they know. Help them become familiar with the new process or concept and let them experience the benefits therein. It’s like getting a new phone: You have to turn it on and play with and soon it becomes a valuable companion. – Joké Coker, Constellation Coaching Group

9. Listen With Fresh Ears

An effective approach to building trust is listening. It’s simple even though not always easy. So often we are thinking of a response rather than listening to the speaker. It is also important to listen with fresh ears, meaning don’t base the conversation or your response on past conversations or encounters with the speaker. Every conversation is a new opportunity to exchange crucial information. – Claudette Gadsden, Coach Claudette & Associates