7 Books on Trust, Betrayal, and Repairing Relationships In Organizations

Patricea Pop

7 minutes read

Trust, that vital component of any relationship is in short supply in the workplace nowadays and for good reason: we operate in an environment that is becoming more and more uncertain and unpredictable and this poses a series of challenges in building and maintaining trust.

In a workplace where we don’t feel like we can rely on one another, control, micromanagement, tension, and anxiety are all common. When employees aren’t respected, supported, and valued, mistrust starts to develop. This in turn impacts both employee performance and retention.

Since most of us are now working remotely and distance isn’t a factor that encourages connection, we can’t help but talk about the urgent need to foster the behaviors that generate trust in the workplace. At the same time, we also need to discover what undermines it and what are some of the strategies that enable us to repair it.

For those interested in cultivating trust in the workplace, here are 7 books that can help:

1. The Decision to Trust: How Leaders Create High-trust Organizations (Hurley & Robert F.)

If you don’t know where to start, the first step is to make the decision to trust. In essence, the book proposes a model for building trust (DTM – Decision Trust Model) which can be used by leaders, teams, and organizations.

2. Building the High-Trust Organization: Strategies for Supporting Five Key Dimensions of Trust (Pamela S Shockley-Zalabak & Sherwyn Morreale & Michael Hackman)

The basic characteristic of a high-trust organization is genuine care for employees, customers, and other stakeholders, and building trust basically begins with assessing practices, policies, and processes of communication at the organizational level.

3. The 10 Laws of Trust: Building the Bonds That Make a Business Great (Joel Peterson & David A. Kaplan)

Since success in business and in professional life strongly depends on the quality of the relationships, the book talks about 10 key principles, called laws, which are key to building strong business bonds:

  • Start with personal integrity
  • Invest in respect
  • Empower others
  • Measure what you want to achieve
  • Create a shared dream
  • Keep everyone informed
  • Accept conflict
  • Show modesty
  • Strive to negotiate for everyone’s benefit
  • Act with care

4. Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High-Performance Companies (Paul J. Zak)

With more and more people opting for non-traditional ways to make a living and with the war for talent getting fiercer, one tool that makes a difference in the job market is company culture. This is how trust is becoming an effective tool both for attracting and retaining the best talent.

5. Trust & Betrayal in the Workplace: Building Effective Relationships in Your Organization (Dennis S Reina & Michelle L Reina)

Trust and betrayal…here’s a complex dynamic in the workplace. This book explores the behaviors that build trusting relationships as well as those that contribute to breaking them. Moreover, it suggests concrete actions that can help in sustaining and rebuilding trust.

6. Friend & Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both (Adam Galinsky & Maurice Schweitzer)

Another dynamic that defines professional relationships is that of competition and cooperation. Today’s ever-changing business context often makes people move quickly from cooperation to competition in the workplace. The book shows us how to prepare ourselves to juggle both mindsets in such a way that we can nurture our relationships.

7. Collaborating with the Enemy: How to Work with People You Don’t Agree with or Like or Trust (Adam Kahane)

The book is intended for those who must cooperate with those they don’t trust, like, or agree with.
In conclusion, the message is relevant to everybody with work experience because let’s face it, such scenarios occur again and again.

It is precisely this cyclical rhythm of relationships, from harmony to conflict and then back to harmony, that gives us the opportunity to take a deeper look at our level of trust and how we manage it better.
To whom do we offer our trust?
What are the criteria behind this decision?
Where do we need to bring adjustments?

Here are a few questions we can use as a starting point for rebuilding damaged trust in our professional connections.

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Written by Patricea Pop


It is said that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a simple step and mine started a few summers ago when I wanted to do something for myself, so I enrolled in a coaching programme. This gave me the chance to look at myself from a different perspective: little did I know that it would take me to a different career path, that of being a coach.

After more than 12 years in the corporate world which taught me many lessons and several years of preparation for my new role, I now support people in business to improve their self leadership skills. I think leadership is an inside job and it is part soul searching, part strategy and part relationship skills.

I love writing about work and organizations because it is the place where we invest heavily our time and energy and we often end up feeling stressed, trapped and dissatisfied. My strength relies on my resilience, critical thinking and intuition and I believe it is an honour to accompany someone on their inner journey.

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