Building Trust and Overcoming Distrust

Prerequisites: None

Noted writer Stephen Covey described trust as the “one thing that changes everything.” This program will explore what trust is and its critical role in personal and organizational dynamics and offer specific, practical ways to build and/or rebuild trust when it is broken.


Learning Objectives

  • Define trust based on scientific and practical perspectives
  • Develop a repertoire of skills that build trust
  • Recognize the symptoms of distrust and develop steps to overcome it
  • Practice applying skills learned in personal, professional, and mediation contexts


Course Agenda

Basics of trust

  • Personal experiences
  • Relationship to emotional intelligence
  • Neurobiology of trust

Basics of distrust

  • Distrust as more than just the absence of trust
  • Key attributes of distrust

Interactive exploration of the dynamics of how people behave in environments of trust and distrust

Translating trust theory and principles into practice – behaviors

  • Enhancing communication, avoiding misunderstanding
  • Building credibility, deterring suspicion
  • Displaying and valuing competence

Building back from distrust

  • Assessment
  • Developing and implementing change
  • “Meta-coaching”

Activities: Ideas, opportunities, and hurdles for trust and distrust

Application of learning in ADR and mediation


About the Instructor

John Settle, MPA, JD

John Settle has over twenty years experience as a mediator and trainer.  He is certified as a mediator and Mentor Mediator by the Supreme Court of Virginia, and he holds Advanced Workplace Mediator status from the Association for Conflict Resolution.  He heads his own mediation and consulting firm (SETTLEment Associates, LLC) and is among the cadre of consultants for several national firms providing ADR services.  He has been a trainer and mediator with the Northern Virginia Mediation Service since 1998.  He is a contract mediator for three offices of EEOC (including EEOC’s internal “Resolve” program) and has mediated and trained for many federal agencies.  He served as the contract Ombudsman for the U.S. Architect of the Capitol.  Mr. Settle is on the faculty of George Washington University’s Center for Excellence in Public Administration, teaching conflict management and negotiation skills, and has taught negotiation skills at GWU Law School.  He is a retired member of the Virginia Bar. Mr. Settle formerly held senior federal management positions, and he received the Presidential Award of Meritorious Executive in the Senior Executive Service.