Moving on from last week’s article, I’m looking today at some of the ‘doing’ and ‘being’ of building trust. If you find yourself in an important or significant relationship where either you do not trust the other party, or they do not trust you, neither of you will give of or be at your best. This can result in a breakdown in the relationship, with all the consequent fallout.
To trust another, you have to be prepared to relinquish some control. When not trusting, your main objective is for your own personal survival, so your thoughts and actions center on ensuring that you get what you need and that you are safe at all costs. Your ego is designed to do all that it can to make sure that you are safe first, and it will do this by trying to control everything to ensure that you are.
Maybe with time, once you feel safe enough, you will relinquish a little control, and eventually relax in the other person’s company – a state of trusting. During this process, as you let go of trying to control the situation or outcomes, you have to allow yourself to become vulnerable. That means exposing yourself to the risk of being wounded or hurt by the other person, perhaps by revealing something about yourself that could be used by them against you, if they decided to do so. Trust builds when vulnerabilities are declared by both parties, but neither takes advantage of them at cost to the other – positive experiences accumulate over time.
At some point, if the relationship is going to develop, you have to make a decision – to trust or not trust the other person. If you continue to not trust them, the relationship will stagnate or dissolve. Choosing to trust and offer ongoing trust to them will develop the relationship.
So trusting others happens both at a point in time, and over a period of time.
Once you are clear about why you trust people, it becomes easier to build trust in others as they will be looking for the same.
Factors which increase people’s trust in you center around demonstrating integrity.
At one level, integrity means doing what you say you are going to do, despite possible difficulties encountered along the way. It also means behaving consistently in line with your own values, and not changing your behaviours according to the political pressures of others just to ensure your own survival.
Acting from integrity means that you will not only be true to yourself, but also demonstrate predictability, consistency, honesty, reliability and vulnerability to others – all signs that people look for and find important in deciding whether they are going to trust you.
Another distinguishing factor of trustworthy people is that they look for a win-win in all their dealings with people. A win-win is distinguished in two ways: firstly it means that both parties are satisfied because they both get what they need or want from their interactions. Secondly, for someone seeking a win-win, it becomes as important to them that the needs of the other party are met, as well as their own needs – there is a genuine concern that both parties are satisfied. In contrast, if you are seeking a win-lose as an outcome, it means that your focus is on getting what you want at whatever cost to the other party. It is not great being on the losing side of someone behaving like that, and does not build trust.
Think of some people you trust, and don’t trust. What are they like? How true to their values do they live? How consistent, reliable and honest are they? Do they look for a win-win or a win-lose in their relationships and dealings, and are they concerned for your needs?
Now look at yourself. How well do you stack up if you ask yourself these questions? If you are not sure about some of the answers, ask someone you trust for their opinion. Even better, if you want to build trust with someone you hardly know, ask them – it is an opportunity to demonstrate vulnerability, and therefore build trust, and great relationships!