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Disclose Your Motives To Improve Trust

Have you ever been asked a question by your boss or partner but given no context about why? Maybe you inquired, and were told, “Because I said so,” or “Don’t question me, just do it,” or even worse, being accused of insubordination.

Do you avoid sharing your motives? Maybe you do it to maintain power and control. Maybe you aren’t aware how important it is to others. Maybe you’ve convinced yourself that you know best what you need and how people can help you. Maybe you are just being a jerk.

One of the biggest trust-busters is lack of transparency around motives.

Regardless of why, when you hide your motives from others, you greatly undermine their ability to help you. It insults their intelligence by treating them like they can’t think independently or collaborate with you in finding solutions. If you withhold your motives, you can count excuses, passive-aggressive behavior, and avoidance from others.

Try This Instead

Disclose your motives before you ask people to do anything for you. Let people know the “why” behind your request. Share the real reasons you care about it and why you think they could help. Even better, engage them in helping you find a solution.

Instead of, “Will you meet me in my office at 1 PM?”

Try, “I’m putting together some numbers for my annual goal review and I’ve been wondering how our performance compares to last year. I’d like to pick your brain.” 

Instead of, “Why did the ad run on Friday?”

Try, “Earlier today I got some tough questions from my boss about the timing of our new campaign and I felt embarrassed and confused. Will you help me understand so I can feel confident explaining it?”

Instead of, “Tell me what you’ve accomplished this week.”

Try, “I’m angry about slow progress on the project. I want to understand what’s been happening so I can discuss course corrections. Will you share with me what you’ve been working on this week?” 

If this feels vulnerable to you, that’s completely normal. It should. This is what it feels like to struggle with people instead of against them. It’s called compassion. This is what teamwork is about; transparency of motives so that people can fully engage towards the real goal.

Things to Ponder

  • How do I feel when people ask me to do something without disclosing their motives?
  • What would I lose (or gain) by disclosing my motivators with the people who’s help I need?
  • What steps could I take to be more open about my motives?
Disclose Your Motives To Improve Trust

Nathan Regier

Nate Regier, PhD is CEO and Co-founding owner of Next Element, a global leadership communication firm specializing in building cultures of Compassionate Accountability®. A former practicing clinical psychologist, Dr. Regier splits his time between writing, speaking, training, consulting, and developing Next Element's global network of certified trainers. He is co-developer of the Leading Out of Drama® training and coaching system for positive conflict, and has authored two books on drama and conflict; Beyond Drama: Transcending Energy Vampires, and Conflict Without Casualties: A Field Guide For Leading With Compassionate Accountability. Nate is a certifying master trainer in the Process Communication Model®. He lives in Newton, KS, is married and has three daughters. Learn more about Conflict Without Casualties here.

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APA Reference
Regier, N. (2019). Disclose Your Motives To Improve Trust. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2020, from


Last updated: 9 Apr 2019
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