How You Build or Break Trust

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“Trust has to be earned and should come only after the passage of time.” – Arthur Ashe

Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash

Trust is the foundation of a healthy relationship – be it personal or professional. It’s a belief that the other person – your partner, friend, boss, parent or client — is concerned about your well-being and acts with your best interest at heart. It allows people to be vulnerable and safe with one another. If you want to have a healthy relationship at home or work, here are some things to do and not to do to create and sustain long-term trust.

Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

Even as kids, we quickly learn to recognize when someone doesn’t follow through with promises they make.  As we grow older, we set our expectations by learning not to trust someone who is untruthful or doesn’t keep their word. If your partner consistently promises to do their share of cleaning and cooking and doesn’t follow through, chances are you’ll find it hard to trust them. So if you are looking to increase trust within your relationship, it’s essential that you stick to your word and don’t make promises you can’t keep or say things that don’t convey what you really think.

Be Respectful No Matter How Emotional You Get

This premise seems obvious, but think about how many times we feel emotionally let down, humiliated or upset because someone has belittled our opinion. Respect doesn’t always mean being formal or polite. It means that even if you’re angry or frustrated with someone, you’re not demeaning them or violating their dignity.

A lack of respect is one of the main reasons why trust gets broken and people leave their spouses or look for other jobs because they don’t feel valued. Remember, even when we lash out at our partner or parent in anger, without intending to hurt them, we begin to erode at the trust. Unless we apologize and don’t repeat that action, preserving trust can become challenging.

Don’t Be Judgmental

One of the easiest ways to ruin someone’s trust is to be judgmental. When we pass judgment, we hurt the other person by making them feel like they can’t do anything right. Sarcastic comments, even when expressed in the form of a “joke”, can sabotage trust.  A partner or friend may hesitate to confide in you out of fear of being judged. This keeps both of you from forming trusting relationships. Learn to be empathic and look at a situation from someone else’s point of view. As the famous idiom goes, “Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches.”

Give People the Benefit Of The Doubt

If your friend who is usually on time, once day, shows up a half-hour late with no heads-up, you might want to give her the benefit rather than stomp off in a huff. What is needed in cases like these is setting aside your doubts and anger and letting the other person come through for you. Now, I don’t recommend this for repeat offenders as they are clearly not trying to build trust with you.

Don’t Be Afraid To Express Your Feelings

Building trust takes a willingness to be open and vulnerable. This means revealing something embarrassing from your past, sharing your dreams as well as fears, or not hesitating to let the other person know how you feel about them. Emotional intelligence plays a role in building trust and being able to put aside negative emotions such as anger, jealousy, or hurt.

Be Willing To Own Up to Your Mistakes

When we try to cover up our mistakes, people can see through us. To keep the trust going, admit and own up to them. After all, we are human – and by being honest and transparent, people see your vulnerable side and will trust you more. Pretending to be perfect and flawless doesn’t work and makes it harder for people to believe you and relate to you.

Value The Relationships In Your Life

Trust often results from consistency. We tend to trust people who are there for us consistently through good and bad. Regularly showing someone that you’re there for them is an effective way to build trust. If your best friend of more than 20 years moves from the East Coast to the West Coast, it doesn’t mean you stop caring about her. This friend has seen you through ups and downs and taking the time to reach out to her, see how she’s doing, catch up via Facetime shows that you value her and that you’re here for her.

Trust takes time and effort to build, yet only takes moments to lose. Experiencing a trusting relationship that is healthy and intimate is definitely worth it!

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