Reflecting on Quotations

Most people are familiar with the concept of trust. They haveheard many proverbs and pithy sayings about trust. We have collected several quotations about trust and incorporated them in an opening activity.


To reflect on important ideas about trust that are embedded in short quotations.


Minimum: 2

Maximum: 30

Best: 5 to 15


20 to 45 minutes


  • Quotation cards (see below)
  • Handout, Quotations about Trust


Create quotation cards. Review the quotations in the handout. Print or write each quotation on two separate cards. Make a duplicate copy of each proverb card.


Distribute the quotations. At the beginning of the session, select as many quotation cards (along with their duplicates) as there are participants. Distribute the cards so that

  • each participant gets two different quotations
  • each quotation is given to two different participants.

Example: In a recent session, we had 17 participants. So we created two copies each of the first 17 quotations listed in the handout. We gave Quotations 1 and 2 to the first participant, 2 and 3 to second participant, 3 and 4 to the third, and so on. We continued this approach, until we reached the last (seventeenth) participant. We gave this person Quotations 17 and 1 to close the loop.

Invite reflection. Explain that these quotations focus on the key elements of trust. Ask the participants to reflect on each quotation and discover its significance. Warn the participants that they will be asked to make a short presentation on both quotations they received.

Call for first pair of presentations. After a suitable pause, randomly select one of the quotations from the list. Read this quotation (or display it on the screen). Ask the two participants who received cards with that quotation to take turns and make their presentations.

Encourage discussion. If appropriate, ask the participants to vote (by their applause) to identify the better presentation. Invite comments from the other participants.

Continue the activity. Repeat the procedure with other randomly selected quotation.

Conclude the activity. If you have a large group, it is not necessary that you must invite every participant to make a presentation. After a few paired presentations, invite participants who have important insights to share to make their presentations. Conclude the activity by distributing a copy of the handout, Quotations about Trust to each participant. Encourage participants to read them and reflect.

Variations and Adjustments

Distributed presentations. Instead of conducting all paired presentations at the same time, distribute them throughout the workshop session. For example, you may conduct two paired presentations after each coffee break and lunch break.


Quotations about Trust

  1. Better to trust the man who is frequently in error than the one who is never in doubt. - Eric Sevareid
  2. Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him, and to let him know that you trust him. - Booker T. Washington
  3. He who does not trust enough will not be trusted. - Lao Tzu
  4. If you don't have trust inside your company, then you can't transfer it to your customers. - Roger Staubach
  5. It is mutual trust, even more than mutual interest, that holds human associations together. - H. L. Mencken
  6. It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. - Warren Buffett
  7. Learning to trust is one of life's most difficult tasks. - Isaac Watts
  8. 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
  9. The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them. - Ernest Hemingway
  10. The essence of trust building is to emphasize the similarities between you and the customer. - Thomas J. Watson
  11. 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
  12. The people when rightly and fully trusted will return the trust. - Abraham Lincoln
  13. The trust of the innocent is the liar's most useful tool. – Stephen King
  14. To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved. - George MacDonald
  15. Trust is built when someone is vulnerable and not taken advantage of. – Bob Vanourek
  16. Trust is built with consistency. - Lincoln Chafee
  17. Trust is like blood pressure. It's silent, vital to good health, and if abused it can be deadly. – Frank Sonnenberg
  18. Trust, but verify. - Ronald Reagen
  19. We need people in our lives with whom we can be as open as possible. To have real conversations with people may seem like such a simple, obvious suggestion, but it involves courage and risk. - Thomas Moore
  20. When a gifted team dedicates itself to unselfish trust and combines instinct with boldness and effort, it is ready to climb. - Patanjali
  21. When people honor each other, there is a trust established that leads to synergy, interdependence, and deep respect. Both parties make decisions and choices based on what is right, what is best, what is valued most highly. - Blaine Lee
  22. When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective. – Stephen R. Covey
  23. Wise men put their trust in ideas and not in circumstances. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
  24. Without trust, at best you get compliance. – Jesse Lyn Stoner
  25. You must trust and believe in people, or life becomes impossible. - Anton Chekhov