WASHINGTON. I recently attended a meeting where a business owner was talking about cultivating trust. It was music to my ears when, at the same time, he and I mentioned “transparency.” That’s a main ingredient in the “trust recipe.” I believe leadership is within all of us and occurs at all levels. And successful leaders, whether leading an organization, a group they belong to, or their own family, enhance their success when they are transparent. That is, when they are open, honest, and clear with others.
Trust is a foundational element in everything we do. It is the cement that holds everything together. Yet it takes time to develop trust. In the process of cultivating trust, we must be willing to show vulnerability.
Management Concepts describes trust this way.
“When you trust someone, what you make vulnerable can range from concrete things such as money, a job, a promotion, or a particular goal, to less tangible things such as a belief you hold, a cherished way of doing things, your ‘good’ name, or even your sense of happiness and well-being.”
(Side note: To learn more about vulnerability look at the works of Brené Brown.)
Think of someone in your life that you trust. What is it that allows you to trust them? What exactly do they do to encourage this?
Trusting others, and trusting again
I look at what people say. Is the person honest? Transparent? But more importantly, I look at what people actually do. In other words, do their actions match their words? I believe that when the words and actions match, that is “being in integrity.”
Trust builds for different people in different ways. Some people trust quickly. Then, if there is a break in that trust, the relationship shifts. After an individual loses trust, others look for that person to earn their trust again. Experience by experience, that process of cultivating trust once again can form a strong foundation for their relationship.
When we trust, we feel more comfortable and tend to share more. We become more willing to take risks and feel more confident with the people we trust. How much we trust and the way we trust depends on the relationships and experiences we’ve had.
As you cultivate trust in your own relationships, the process is generally reciprocal. This gradually makes it easier to trust more with each experience.
Collaboration is built on trust
Clearly, without trust, relationships don’t grow. With trust, we can sustain growth as time goes on. But when someone breaks a trust, we see it as a threat. Subsequently, we then find we have less confidence in that person.
Moving through the disappointment of broken trust, we tend to retreat into a protective mode that can drain and deplete our energy. The results can be quite damaging. Because of the loss of trust, we can temporarily become less productive, have lower morale, and even question our own judgment.
The upside of trust, however, is great. Trust makes it easier to go through change and transition. We become less resistant to new ideas and stronger in our beliefs.
What does trust look like to you?
When dealing with the issue of trust, here are some important ingredients.
- Mutual Respect. One of the most important blocks of our trust ABCs. This behavior is standard in healthy relationships. When cultivating trust, mutual respect reduces stress and conflict and increases communication, productivity, knowledge and understanding.
- Character of a Person. Consists of qualities that make one person distinct from others. In this case good character consists of being trustworthy, honesty, and above all, a good person.
- Reliability. Being dependable, meeting commitments, and following through.
- Consistency. Always accurate and fair. Assuring that what one says and the message that’s delivered don’t contradict what was previously said, And that the message is clear and consistent.
- Sincerity. As the saying goes, you say what you mean and you mean what you say. When someone expresses an opinion, others know it to be truly their own.
- Competence. The ability, skill and capacity to carry out what you say you’ll do.
- Trust Your Gut. In different situations, we get a signal from our gut intuition. Something either feels right or it doesn’t. This creates a feeling of dissonance or resonance. That conflict can make us wonder if we can trust or not.
Don’t ignore the signal that you feel in your body.
I feel dissonance in my gut. Others may feel it in other parts of their body. Don’t ignore this feeling. Use it as a guide. Work on cultivating trust. And trust yourself!
— Headline image: Trust and teamwork. Public domain image via Pixabay.com. CC 0.0 license.
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Susan Commander Samakow, PCC, CPCC
Professional Certified Coach, Facilitator, Trainer & Author
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Former ICF Metro DC President
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