06 Apr The Secret to Creating Trust, Part 1
“The mind lives in doubt, and the heart lives in trust. When you trust, suddenly you become centered.”
“I don’t trust you.”
“I can’t trust you anymore.”
“The trust we had is broken.”
Have you ever heard someone say those words to you?
What did it feel like to be “diagnosed” as un-trustworthy? Was it a sinking feeling? Did you feel discouraged or misunderstood?
I’ve worked with a few thousand people over the past 52 years. As a psychotherapist, I’ve had the privilege to be with them as they healed wounds from the past and accomplished marvelous things in the present. Now, as a coach, it’s my privilege to support them in bringing those “unimagined possibilities” into their lives.
A recurring issue is a sense of discouragement we experience when we hear that someone doesn’t trust us. One reason for this is the following:
- When someone says they don’t trust you, how can you prove they can rely on you?
- Once we’ve concluded that we can’t trust someone, our brains will begin to give us evidence for that assertion, leaving out any possibility of thinking otherwise.
- What’s needed is a shift in perspective to see what’s true about people, to see whether this lack of trust is truly justified.
There are two ways to think about trust.
- Trust as a psychological assessment. When we are disappointed because someone has done something that hurts us or upsets some plan that’s important to us personally or from a business standpoint.
Ralph: Jim made a mistake that could have cost us our reputation. He didn’t check his figures when we sent out a landscaping proposal. The prospective client asked if our quote had escalated into thousands of dollars over that price. We corrected the mistake. Now I don’t trust him to send out accurate proposals.
Carolyn: My husband is untrustworthy. That’s the only way I can put it. We’ve been married for 15 years. He hasn’t changed. He lost the expensive watch I bought him as a Christmas present. Several months ago, he lost his written invoice to a client because his desk was a mess. Now I hear from a friend who works in his office that he’s been flirting with his Executive Assistant. I don’t know what to do, but I don’t trust him.
Christine: That’s it! I don’t trust Sheila anymore. And I told her so! She leaked a secret I told her to someone in the office, and now I just know everyone has found out that I’m attracted to our vice president.
Here’s the question: Does someone’s action indicate that, at their core, they are untrustworthy? One caution: we’re not talking about a profoundly egregious act. Something unethical or illegal. We’re looking at another person’s mistakes, which, even though they may hurt or aggravate us, don’t necessarily mean that the person is untrustworthy.
2. Trust as a way of seeing who people are. At some point in our lives, you and I have made at least one mistake that caused someone else to feel terrible. That hurt them or made them angry. You know this is true. I’m not asking you to enumerate them to yourself. Let’s just take this as a fact. It’s part of living with others. The point is, does that make us unworthy of trust?
What if you were to see that others have done the same things we have? Does that make them untrustworthy? What if we changed that perspective and saw that everyone deserves our trust? What is it that would allow us to see that?
It begins with being willing to trust. To be willing is our ability to say “yes” no matter how we think or feel. If you are interested in a shift in perspective, read on.
In reading previous newsletters, you might remember the Dag Hammarskjold quote we looked at:
“For all that has been, I say Thank You, and to everything that will be, I say Yes.”
Saying “yes” to life, no matter how we think or feel about what’s happening to us, takes courage. That’s because being willing transcends our thoughts and feelings. For example, you can be willing:
- To do something you don’t know how to do.
- To do something you think you can’t do.
- To do something you don’t want to do.
- To do something you’re afraid to do.
One suggestion for changing your perspective about yourself and others: be willing to see that mistakes do not make anyone untrustworthy. That’s a giant leap for most of us because we have used our thoughts and feelings to diagnose ourselves and others as unreliable because of that mistake.
Are you willing to shift your perspective? Please look at this question before next week’s edition. It’s no small thing to say “yes.” When you’re willing, you create a “sea change” in what you’re asking your brain to focus on. This shift will echo throughout your relationships with people.
You might ask: “If I shift how I see the person I’ve said I don’t trust, what possibilities are open to this relationship?”
One possibility that may open for you is being compassionate about what it takes to be a human being. We all want to know that our lives make a difference. That’s one of the main reasons people stay on a job for years, even when the “pay” isn’t what they would like it to be. Knowing that they are contributing to those around them has them stay.
In addition, when you’ve made a mistake, haven’t you wished for someone to see they can still trust you? In Carolyn’s case, it may mean she and her husband could use coaching to have truthful conversations. For Christine, a conversation with her friend about whether she did talk to someone else or if people had noticed for themselves that she was flirting with the VP.
Until next week,
“Trust opens up new and unimagined possibilities.”
— Robert C. Solomon