Think of someone you fully trust. Take your time; there’s little value in reading on until you have pictured a specific face in your mind. It can be anyone: a sibling, spouse, co-worker, friend, parent, pastor, coach, whomever.
If you can’t seem to choose a face because trust itself comes more slowly to you, that’s fine. A little sad, but certainly common. If this is you, then choose someone you used to trust (before they blew it) or perhaps you can suspend your own instincts and extend a little trust to this author for a few minutes. 🙂
What can we say about the person we’ve chosen? Well, after leading workshops on building trust since 1995, experience reveals there’s an excellent chance that:
– We like them as people.
– We believe what they tell us.
– We respect their opinion, even when it differs from our own.
– We see their humanity and give them the benefit of the doubt.
– We don’t want to disappoint them.
– We want them to trust us as well – so we behave more trustworthy.
– When we work with the person, we likely do our best work.
– They take chances and level with us for our own good.
– We can be ourselves; this relationship feels free flowing, easy, and natural.
– This level of trust did not happen overnight.
We will come back to this good place but it’s important that we draw a stark distinction. So, now pick a person you distrust. Choose a name and face like before. This person need not be in your life now, but it helps. Once again, experience tells us:
– Down where it matters, we don’t like them very much.
– We wonder whether we are getting the truth from them.
– We often lock onto points of disagreement to keep that person at arm’s length.
– We see their humanity and hold it against them.
– Their opinion of us is not that important.
– We don’t go the extra mile, and often not even the expected ones.
– Little if any gut-level honesty is being shared in either direction.
– The relationship feels like a staged and often pointless choreography.
– If we can get away with it, we avoid the person altogether.
I do not suggest that we can somehow, through effective building trust skills and techniques, convert everyone whom we distrust today into people we can fully trust. Like you, I live in the real world. We are surrounded by humans.
What I do know is this: there are people in my own life – my family and friends, my church, my workplace, and my community – that may not put me on their “fully trusted persons” list. And because of this, my relationships are not all they could be, and my influence on the world around me is lessened.
The old saying that “trust is earned” is true, but not very helpful. Likewise, “Once lost, trust is hard to get back.” Our vision for building trust in our lives can be much more invigorating than this!
I want to expand trust in my life. Trust allows me to be my true self, to feel that I am at my best, and to help maximize my influence on others. Since I cannot make others trustworthy, the way to expand trust in my life is to actively and consciously build it myself. I will learn and apply the skills to do so!
In the next Building Trust blog post I will begin responding to your meaty, real-life questions. Feel free to be as general or as specific as you like; I will tweak them for a general audience.
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