Trust can take a lifetime to build and only a second to lose. We’ve seen these words play out in the lives of countless public figures, among our friends & family, and in our own personal life.
As a part of my coaching & matchmaking intake process, I conduct a “360 analysis” which includes interviews with my clients’ past spouses, dates, and friends. In nearly 100% of the cases, “loss of trust” was reported as an ingredient in the demise of a past relationship. I often say that all relationships (personal, professional, and romantic) begin and end with trust.
So with trust being such an integral part of our relationships, knowing how to manage it is imperative. In today’s post I focus on how to build trust or what to do when trust is lost AND you want to regain it. Here are 14 ways to build or rebuild trust:
1) Stop Lying – When we tell the truth, even when it isn’t pleasant, we become much more trustworthy. Becoming known as a person who doesn’t lie, even in tough times or moments of significant pressure, shows people your moral strength. Being appreciated for honesty sustains trustworthiness.
2) Set Your Expectations – Studies show the average person tells 4 lies per day. People are human, frail, and sinful. The key is to trust people as who they are rather than the person we want them to be.
3) Do What You Say You’re Going To Do – The foundation of trust typically doesn’t break suddenly, it erodes over time. Keep your eye on the small things. Canceling or failing to follow through on simple tasks will create hairline fractures in your trustworthiness. Enough of those, and the foundation will crumble.
4) Be A Better Communicator – This is the single most important part of relationship management. There are many ways to grow your skills in this area but start with being a better listener (and the most effective listeners use their eyes). Remember that 93% of communication is non-verbal.
5) Express Your Needs Clearly – Value your needs enough to convey them. It’s unfair and unhealthy to exist in a relationship where your partner or friends must guess about your needs.
6) Be Positive – This goes hand in hand with smiling. We naturally trust people we perceive to be nice. Why do you think salespeople grin so much? I once heard a researcher say when it comes to trust we believe 99% of what we see and 1% of what we hear .
7) Embrace Shared, Rather Than Personal Goals – Trust comes when we feel our partner (or team) is pulling together to accomplish a shared vision, rather than a personal agenda. This is the essence of teamwork. When a team really works, the players trust one another. As my wife always says “it takes teamwork to make the dream work.”
8) Don’t Allow Issues To Go Unresolved – Allowing any issue, no matter how small, to go unaddressed manifests into larger issues. Putting a problem off for later discussion or dismissing it with hopes of it being forgotten is the worst conflict resolution strategy. If you have an issue, address it, even if only to acknowledge it. When you start talking about a problem, you’re half way to resolving the problem.
9) Hold To Your Highest Moral Standard – This is very important in romantic relationships or when leading a team. It’s critical for people to feel confident that you will not falter or betray them. When your ability to be true or dedicated isn’t questioned, being trusted becomes a stronger consideration.
10) Volunteer Information – I fall victim to this often. I’ll come back from hanging out with the fellas and my wife will ask how it went and I’ll say “it was cool.” No bueno! Why? Because she wants to know more than that. When an opportunity to be vague arises, don’t take it. Tell people things they need or want to know. If you begin to provide reliable information they will trust you.
11) Be Consistent – This is a character trait very easily determined. It underscores your reliability and predictability. Someone with consistent character is thought to have good judgement in handling situations.
12) Treat People Fairly & Equally – Plain and simple, apply the rule: “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” When you do that, not only are you typically reciprocated but you also exude the character of someone who is trustworthy.
13) Be A Confidant – Don’t be a gossip. Enough said. You can only be trusted when people know you to be discreet with secrets.
14) Fight Fair – Despite what many say, fighting is a part of any good relationship. The problem is not that couples fight, but how they fight. If you fight unfairly, then you destroy trust. If you fight fairly, you build trust. A fair fight means that you never resort to name calling or putdowns, keep the discussion in the present, don’t use phrases that are absolutes (such as “you never” or “you always”), don’t bring the other person’s family into the issue to support your case or to attack your spouse.
To discover more about what I’ve learned about trust in my marriage, read this short post.