December 14, 2018

Key Elements of Trust

trustSome people are more trusting than others. Some are more trustworthy. But once trust is broken, it is not easy to rebuild (though not impossible in many cases). There is more than one way to breach trust. 

° Lara was never sure when Paul would be kind and supportive or when he’d berate her cruelly for her failings. She lost her ability to trust in his good intentions.
° Chip trusted Damien 100% until the day he found out Damien had been having an affair. Damien lost Chip’s trust that day and did not know how to earn it back.
° Brendan never showed up when he said he would, and when he was late for the birth of his first child, Sarah’s trust in him was mortally wounded.

There are many ways to lose our trust in another or forfeit the trust of someone we love. We’ve all been there—betrayed or betrayer, despite best intentions. A loss of trust is not just about the big stuff—affairs, stealing, lies. It can be about the small failures that add up over time and erode our sense of trust.

  1. Trust is a choice. Our innate nature guides us, it is true, as do the circumstances at hand, and still, we choose to put our trust in someone. For some people that is difficult, especially if they have been unable to count on those closest to them. For others, no matter what their history is, they simply choose to give their trust willingly.
  2. Trust happens gradually. Some people give their trust immediately. Others do not. But generally, it is a gradual thing. When you are in a relationship—with anyone from a boss or coworker to a lover or friend—your actions towards one another either help build trust, or they don’t.
  3. Be dependable. Align your actions with your words. Telling your partner, “I want you to take the time you need to build up your business” means you don’t later accuse him or her of being “too busy all the time” and neglecting you.
  4. Keep your promises. If you say you’ll be there before your daughter’s recital begins so you don’t miss her song, be there. If you pledge to love and honor someone till death do you part, don’t sleep around. That kind of thing.
  5. Be honest. If you screw up, admit it. If you are unhappy, say so. If you have done something you know was wrong, or are tempted to do something you’d regret, talk about it.
  6. Don’t keep secrets. Secrets are the same as being dishonest. Not speaking the truth is a lie of omission.
  7. Communicate your innermost thoughts. If you are worried, share. If you are angry, sad, or wanting change, speak up. Keeping things shoved away in the dark never helps anyone, and definitely undermines trust.
  8. Don’t judge. If your partner makes a mistake, deal with it head-on but don’t pass judgment. What you do in response is your choice—based on what you can or cannot accept. But judgment creates barriers, not lines of communication. Judgment makes it hard to regain trust.
  9. Be empathetic. Start here. If your relationship is based on empathy, trust will grow. Even if trust is breached, retain the ability to empathize. You’ll be surprised how well that works to rebuild trust.
  10. Have honorable intentions. There is a reason we make pledges and vows. They put our best intentions towards others into words. Guide your actions with your intentions and your words. It is important to say, “I will never lie to you,” or “I will be true to you.” It supports both of you.
  11. Protect trust. Once you’ve earned someone’s trust, guard it carefully. Do not destroy it by slowly chipping it away at it. Holding things in, failing to keep promises, cheating, or lying—these will undo all the work you have done to earn trust.

Whether with a best friend, committed partner, lover, or child, if you genuinely have someone’s best interests in mind, trust between you will develop.


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