Trust

The Best Gift You Can Give Someone: Trust

I appreciate you taking the time to read this article. It’s all about a vital feature of our relationships with others. It’s all about trust.  

According to relationship experts John and Julie Gottman, foremost researchers in the field of trust, qualities related to trust and trustworthiness are the most important characteristics people want in a spouse or partner. They relate that in addition to being important in marriages and other intimate relationships, trust is essential to what makes human communities of all kinds work.  In other words, without trust, there can be no meaningful connection between people.

According to the Tidemark Therapy company (tidemarktherapy.com) trust can be defined as a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone. Trust is something that is irrefutably necessary for the success and happiness of all relationships, including romantic relationships, friendships, and work relationships.  

When we think we can’t trust others, we become lonely, sometimes falling into a “pit” of bitterness and misery. We might think we must put up giant walls with people because it’s the safest way to live. In addition, we might wait for the “bottom to fall out” or the other “shoe to drop.” We fear the worst and “know” that it will eventually emerge.

In other words, our brain begins to give us evidence to prove that what we’re thinking about other people is correct.

However, when we are more interested in seeing that people are generally trustworthy, and when we begin to trust in the general goodness of others, our view of the world shifts. It’s no longer dismal and bleak. Instead, we begin to see people as those who can effect change, as those who can make an impact in the world, and as those who can support us in both good and challenging times. 

Let’s look once again at Tidemark’s view of trust as the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone. You’ll quickly notice that we’re not talking about their behavior. One of the chief difficulties associated with trust in others is to point to their behavior as the indication of whether or not they are trustworthy.

Putting it more personally: have you ever done or said something you were later ashamed of or worried about because it wasn’t in line with your inner values? Now, tell the truth. You know you have (I’m looking at you right now)! Of course, you have! We all have done things that we regret having done.

Let’s take this one step further.  Suppose someone says to us: “That was awful! I can’t believe you did that! I can’t trust you!” How do you feel? You usually don’t brush that off. You feel terrible! Why is that?

Deep down inside, you’re worried they’ll never see you as trustworthy again. It’s like a blow to who you are. That means you could do everything “right” for a long time, but the next time you do something the other person doesn’t like, whether the complaint is valid or not, you worry they’ll say something like: “You see? I told you I couldn’t trust you!  I was right!” It’s a blow to your sense of self, isn’t it?

People need to be seen as trustworthy, capable, and reliable. That’s because of a fundamental need to belong, probably from thousands of years ago when it was essential for us to be part of a group and, therefore, safe.

Clients who have had leadership coaching with me have often asked how to ensure that others see them as trustworthy. They know that when people can trust their leader, it creates a dynamic, creative, productive, and positive workplace.

When asked about trust, I suggest this: you must give it first before you can get it from others. This suggestion is echoed in almost every article or leadership training program I’ve read about. Let me say this again:

If you want people to trust you, you must first trust them!

Although it sounds simple, this may seem like a tall order. Some have told me that it would be impossible to start by giving trust first! They say people need to prove their trustworthiness by their behavior: whether they show up, do their work, keep their promises, are creative, and always support others. 

However, research shows that trust given to others sets the stage for them to give it back. And this brings us back to the beginning: what can we trust in others? The answers are easy to understand but often difficult to put into action. For this reason, you should use the following with people you already know and like. It may be someone at your business, or you occasionally see them at a social gathering. 

This process will allow you to see what is true about another person. How do we know it’s true about them?  Because it’s true about you as well! You will focus your brain’s attention on where you want it to gather evidence. Remember, our brain always gives evidence to prove that what we think about others is correct.

So, regarding someone you already like but haven’t yet confirmed whether they are trustworthy, consider the following:

  • This person has goals and dreams in life, just like you.
  • This person wants to know that their presence makes a difference in the lives of others, whether it’s at work or socially.
  • This person can find their own answers if given the space to do so.
  • This person doesn’t want to be seen as unreliable, even when they haven’t kept their word on some matters.
  • Like everyone else, this person has some obstacles they need to surmount to succeed.
  • This person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, just like everyone else.

When you practice seeing someone through these six descriptive qualities, they will begin to see that you trust them. Even when you need to offer corrective feedback, seeing them by these qualities will turn the conversation around. They’ll begin to see what they must do next to handle the situation.  Granted that their discovery that you trust them won’t happen in one session, but you will have begun to show them that it’s never the case that their trustworthiness is doubted. Instead, they can change behaviors without fearing where they stand with you. They can relax around you. They can start to trust you because you have given them the gift of demonstrating that you trust them!

Try practicing the above six descriptive qualities. Let me know if you see a difference in interacting with others.

I wish you all the love and trust that your heart can hold! Go out there and be great, ok?

See you next time!

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