4 Steps To Building Trust
Updated: May 3
“The ability to establish, grow, extend, and restore trust is the key professional and personal competency of our time.” – Stephen Covey
In a previous post, I shared the three types of trust people tend to practice in relationship. In today’s blog, you’ll discover four simple (yet, not easy) steps you can start taking now to build or restore trust in your home, place of work, or community.
Step 1: Start Talking About Trust, And Talk About It Often. Lead by example. Initiate and support a culture that encourages open, on-going dialogues about trust. Only by talking openly and frequently about trust will you learn what is fueling distrust in your relationship or environment. Take note of what is being said, and use that feedback to design and take tangible actions that will build or restore trust. Acknowledge and then set aside concerns about "messing up" or being perfect, and lead from where you are. Talk about trust, and talk about it often.
Step 2: Believe That Trust Is Possible. It is difficult to create an outcome that you don’t really believe in, or are unwilling to believe is possible. Being trusting can feel frightening, especially if your trust has been abused on multiple occasions and levels (personal, professional, societal). I’m not suggesting that if a person has continually demonstrated untrustworthiness, you choose to continue entrusting yourself, a particular responsibility or relationship to them. Over time, people show you who they are — believe them until they show you differently. Use a combination of your instincts, judgment, research, experience, and even input from a trusted confidant to help you make that call. Still, continue talking about trust and believe that trust is possible.
Step 3: Walk the Talk. Back up your Trust talk with the corresponding right (or corrective) actions. Don’t talk trust if you have no intention of following through. It erodes your reputation and relationships. Recall that in your dialogue(s) from Step 1, you’ll discover the potential right actions to design and take by listening actively to the other party’s responses and feedback. Have integrity. Be courageous. Act in alignment with your promises. Walk the Talk.
Step 4: Practice Authentic Trust. First and foremost, choose to be a person of integrity and good character. The more sincere and trusting you are, the more others will trust in you. Ask yourself: “Are my thoughts, actions and behaviors congruent with my words and promises?” If the answer is no, you may be be holding limiting beliefs or engaging in practices that are undermining your ability to become the kind of person you want (or say you want) to be. Get support from a trusted confidant, or hire a therapist or holistic coach that will support you in healing and shifting your way of being.
Next, start practicing Authentic trust by adopting the mindset that trust is a gift to be given, not earned. Learn to understand and accept that trust and betrayal are simply different sides of the same coin: you cannot have trust without the possibility of distrust or betrayal. Do assess and qualify your trust of people and opportunities, and recognize that in any relationship there’s a chance (risk) someone will let you down, break a promise, or even betray you. By choosing to practice Authentic Trust you’re committed to building inner fortitude, realizing that no matter what life throws your way, you’ll find a way to handle the worst possible outcome(s) to the best of your ability, or seek assistance. Of course, if you assess the situation and along with your gut and experience decide to not trust, don’t trust.
Ultimately, in your normal, every day interactions, I invite you to approach relationships by granting trust instead of making people “earn it.” An important lesson I’ve learned during my own personal growth journey, is that there’s no dignity in making people work for trust. More often than not people will rise to your expectations, and you’ll discover soon enough if the person or organization is trustworthy, or not. One final note: as you travel along your own path and endeavor to build or restore trust in your home, workplace or community, watch for the impulse to exert control over people and situations. Especially to those for whom trust is a struggle, recognize that you can’t build Authentic trust through control. “Trust and control are incompatible, because the core of trust is freedom.” – (Solomon & Flores, Building Trust).
Is being trusting difficult for you? Why do you think that is? What steps have you taken in the past to build or restore trust with yourself? With others? What steps could you take now?