Creating Trust, Part 2

The Secret to Creating Trust, Part 2

“Most good relationships are built on mutual trust and respect.”

Mona Sulphen

Julian: I’ve got a great boss. Whenever I bring a problem to him, he listens. He doesn’t pretend to listen as he looks at his iPhone. I’ve got his full attention. Sometimes he gives me feedback that could sound difficult to hear, but I let it all in. I can tell that he sees the best in me. I trust him, no matter what. That’s why I’ve stayed with this company for over 14 years!

Esther: My Aunt Anna is 88 years old. I’ve known her all my life. Literally.

She remembers when I was born. Now here I am, an executive at a well-known company, and she’s the only one in my family who remembers when I was a baby! Can you believe it? 

Throughout my life, I have taken personal problems to her, like the time about five years ago when I was wondering if I should break up with this guy who was lying to me. He told me he wasn’t seeing any other woman when I discovered through a friend that he was dating someone else. When I told her I was wondering if I should kick him out of my apartment, she said, “Honey, do you think so little of yourself that you’re only thinking about whether you should kick him out of living with you?” I felt stung. Then I saw in her face how she was on my side! She only saw the best for me. I realized then how much I trusted her! And I ended up telling him to leave that very same day!

Creating trust is at the heart of successful business or personal relationships. So, I’m using two articles to unpack what trust means and how to create it! 

Whether we like it or not our success in life, whether personal or professional, is determined by how well we establish mutually beneficial relationships. Trust is an essential feature here. It allows all of us to feel safe, heard, recognized, and respected for who we are. 

The question becomes: how do we create that essential trust? In the last article, I distinguished “trust” as a psychological diagnosis and as a stand for who people are in their hearts.

Let’s review the previous article. There are two “lenses” through which we can view trust. Seen through a “ psychological lens,” trust is attached to how someone behaves. That is, when someone fails to do what they’ve promised or has acted in such a way that we feel hurt, we say something to ourselves like:

“What’s wrong with that person?”

“If they were trustworthy, they wouldn’t have done what they did.”

“They aren’t committed to making this team a success.”

“It drains my energy just to be around them.”

The question becomes: once we’ve pronounced anything like the above, can they ever again gain our trust? Or will we continue to mistrust them and gather evidence for one or more of the above pronouncements? You already know the answer is “yes,” because we have diagnosed them as untrustworthy. 

There’s a second lens. It’s seeing who people really are. This lens takes into account that we all make mistakes. If we review our own lives, we might come up with some significant errors that we’ve done our best to correct.  But does this mean that we’re untrustworthy? No, it means that we’re human.

When you see someone through this second lens, several things occur:

  • They begin to feel that you’re listening to them with undivided attention. This alone can help them feel that you respect them and what they have to say.
  • They relax and become more open to hearing what you say.
  • They have a sense that you are seeing the best in them rather than seeing them as a reflection of their mistakes or errors.
  • If you’re the leader, they want to learn from you.
  • They see that you are giving them room to come up with their own answers about fixing a problematic situation, whether it’s about something personal or business.
  • They begin to experience that “all is well” and that they can trust you.

The bottom line for creating trust is this: if you wish to have relationships built on trust, you must be willing to demonstrate that you trust the other person first. To quote Gandhi,

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

In other words, it starts with you. When you are willing to show trust in who someone is, they respond accordingly. It must begin with you.

To recap: creating trust begins when you are willing to see:

  1. This person is a human being, just like you.
  2. They deserve your support to be successful and make the contributions to life that are most important to them.
  3. They have goals and wishes, and they want to be successful.
  4. They can come up with their answers, especially in the presence of someone focused on them with undivided attention.
  5. They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

Try this: copy these five points on a paper or note card. Put them where you can see them when you talk with someone who has come to you with a problem. See what happens to the other person. Do they relax and listen to what you have to say?

A final point for you to try if you’re a leader and need to give feedback to someone on their performance. As a client told me:

Amy: I’m leading a team of twelve people. We have a regularly scheduled group meeting, and I follow that up each week with a thirty-minute feedback session with each member.  Following your “lens” and needing to give one person feedback about improving their results, I started with what I saw that they did well. I followed up with, “This is what I’d like to see more of,” rather than the usual, “This is what you need to improve on.”  Their face lit up! They appreciated this form of feedback! This produced a great session on how they would implement my suggestions. It was up to them to come up with their own answers. As a result, they calmed down and went to work. I think I created some more trust!

Have fun with this!

Be well,

“A relationship with no trust is like a car with no gas. It won’t go anywhere.”


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