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Quotations on Trust

This page is provides a collection of quotations related to the important role that trust plays in organizations, working relationships, and society. The quotations are arranged alphabetically by source under several broad headings. If you have a favorite quote on trust that you would suggest for inclusion, email the quote to us, citing the source and/or the person to whom the quote is attributed.

Quotes from Ancient Philosophers

He who does not trust enough, will not be trusted.

Lao Tzu

When a gifted team dedicates itself to unselfish trust and combines instinct with boldness and effort, it is ready to climb.

Ancient Yoga Master

It’s a vice to trust everyone, and equally a vice to trust no one.


Put more trust in nobility of character than in an oath.

Ancient Greek Lawmaker

Quotes from Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs

It takes 20 year to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.

Warren Buffet

If we can by any method establish a relation of mutual trust between the laborer and the employer, we shall lay the foundation stone of a structure that will endure for all time.

Mark Hanna
19th Century Industrialist

Trust is what drives profit margin and share price. It is what consumers are looking for and what they share with one another.

Larry Light
CEO, Arcature

I never trust an executive who tends to pass the buck. Nor would I want to deal with him as a customer or a supplier.

James Cash Penney

Surround yourself with people of integrity, and get out of their way. In my adult years as a manager, Bob Galvin, the former CEO of Motorola, was my most influential leader. He told me, ‘A good leader knows he is doing a good job when he knows with certainty that he can say yes to anything his staff asks and feel totally confident that they will do the right thing.’ If you surround yourself with the right people who have integrity, and they all understand well the goals and objectives of the organization, then the best thing to do as a leader is to get out of their way. I use this advice quite a bit at work. The right people will feel far more pressure to perform well when they are trusted.”

Hector Ruiz,
Interview in Fortune Magazine
March 21, 2005

If you don't have trust inside your company, then you can't transfer it to your customers.

Roger Staubach, Real Estate Entrepreneur and Hall of Fame Quarterback

The toughest thing about the power of trust is that it's very difficult to build and very easy to destroy. The essence of trust building is to emphasize the similarities between you and the customer.

Thomas J. Watson
Founder, IBM Corp.

Quotes from Political and Military Leaders

Do not trust the cheering, for those persons would shout as much if you or I were going to be hanged.

Oliver Cromwell

I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity.

Ulysses F. Grant

Trust cannot be commanded; and yet it is also correct that the only one who earns trust is the one who is prepared to grant trust.

Gustav Heinemann
President of Germany, 1969-1974

We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.

John F. Kennedy

I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself.

Robert E. Lee

The people when rightly and fully trusted will return the trust.

Abraham Lincoln

Trust is a great force multiplier.

Tom Ridge
Former Secretary of Homeland Security

The chief lesson I have learned in a long life is that the only way to make a man trustworthy is to trust him; and the surest way to make him untrustworthy is to distrust him and show your distrust.

Henry L. Stimson
American Diplomat and Cabinet Member

Quotes from Leadership Specialists and Consultants

Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work.

Warren Bemis

The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say "I." And that's not because they have trained themselves not to say "I." They don't think "I." They think "we"; they think "team." They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don't sidestep it, but "we" gets the credit. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done.

Peter Drucker

Men of genius are admired, men of wealth are envied, men of power are feared, but only men of character are trusted.

Zig Ziglar

Trust means "I know that you will not—deliberately or accidentally, consciously or unconsciously—take unfair advantage of me." It means "I can put my situation at the moment, my status and self-esteem in the group, our relationship, my job, my career, even my life in your hands with complete confidence."

Douglas McGregor
Author of The Professional Manager

Leadership requires five ingredients – brains, energy, determination, trust and ethics. The key challenges today are in terms of the last two – trust and ethics.

Fred Hilmer
Australian Institute of Management

The most powerful features of an organizational culture are trust and respect. With them, almost any problem can be resolved, or at least people learn valable lessons from difficult experiences, and in the process even learn to trust each other more. But without trust and respect, even the smallest molehill morphs into an Everest.

Samuel Chand

The glue that holds all relationships together - including the relationship between; the leader and the led is trust, and trust is based on integrity.

Brian Tracy
Speaker, Author

Quotes from Authors, Poets, Playwrights, and Artists

We're never so vulnerable than when we trust someone - but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy.

Walter Anderson

He who believes in nobody knows that he himself is not to be trusted.

Berthold Auerbach
German Poet and Author

You must trust and believe in people or life becomes impossible.

Anton Chekhov

You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you don't trust enough.

Frank Crane
Minister, Columnist

If we really want to be full and generous in spirit, we have no choice but to trust at some level.

Rita Dove
American Poet Laureate

Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wise men put their trust in ideas and not in circumstances

Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is impossible to go through life without trust: That is to be imprisoned in the worst cell of all, oneself.

Graham Greene
English Novelist and Playwright

The people I distrust most are those who want to improve our lives but have only one course of action.

Frank Herbert
Science Fiction Author

It is better to suffer wrong than to do it, and happier to be sometimes cheated than not to trust.

Samuel Johnson

To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.

George MacDonald
Theologian, Author

Few delights can equal the presence of one whom we trust utterly.

George MacDonald
Theologian, Author

It is mutual trust, even more than mutual interest that holds human associations together.

H. L. Mencken

Quotes from Social Philosophers and Commentators

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.

Alfred Adler

Someone who thinks the world is always cheating him is right. He is missing that wonderful feeling of trust in someone or something.

Eric Hoffer
Social Philosopher

Better to trust the man who is frequently in error than the one who is never in doubt.

Eric Sevareid

Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him, and to let him know that you trust him.

Booker T. Washington


Trust everyone, but cut the cards.

Finley Peter Dunne
American author and humorist

You can't trust water: Even a straight stick turns crooked in it.

W. C. Fields

I asked a ref if he could give me a technical foul for thinking bad things about him. He said, of course not. I said, well, I think you stink. And he gave me a technical. You can't trust em.

Jim Valvano
NCAA Championship Coach

One should never trust a woman who tells her real age. If she tells that, she'll tell anything.

Oscar Wilde


I've learned that it takes years to build up trust, and it only takes suspicion, not proof, to destroy it.

Anonymous Internet Post

When mistrust comes in, love goes out.

Irish proverb