As we move into this new year and new decade, one of the things that seems definite for us is change.  As my colleague, Tamera Loerzel, explored in her blog Who Are You Going to Be In The Face Of Change, whether it’s our economy, our government, our weather patterns, the foods we eat, or the people with whom we interact, things continue to evolve.  One of the ways to help keep ourselves centered and balanced is to ensure that we have trust in the people with whom we have relationships as we work to navigate these changes, accomplish our goals and fulfill our dreams.

To truly trust, we must first define it and understand why it is so important in this changing phase of history.  In his book, The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything, Stephen M.R. Covey states, “Simply put, trust means confidence.  The opposite of trust – distrust – is suspicion. When you trust people, you have confidence in them – in their integrity and in their abilities. When you distrust people, you are suspicious of them – their integrity, their agenda, their capabilities, or their track record. It’s that simple.”   

Every relationship --- whether personal or professional --- requires a foundation of trust to be successful.  In the early stages of a successful relationship, what is taking place is the development of trust.  If this does not happen, chances are that the relationship is short-lived or never gets off the ground at all.

So, how do we develop trust?  Often, it seems this is done unconsciously and instinctively.  We choose partners that we've known before and have had good feelings about and achieved positive results with at work or in our personal lives.  When we look closer at what caused us to feel good about a person and trust them, certain factors help us build trust or erode it.  Specifically, Covey identifies thirteen behaviors that build (or in the absence of them erode) trust: straight talk, demonstrating respect, creating transparency, righting wrongs, showing loyalty, delivering results, getting better, confronting reality, clarifying expectations, practicing accountability, listening first, keeping commitments, and extending trust first.

To develop trust with another person, it is helpful to start with a self-assessment to reflect on how trustworthy you are. How would you rate yourself on these thirteen behaviors?  Where can you improve?  We all can improve in some area, and it is helpful to be willing to acknowledge where you might not be as strong and commit to work on that area.  For me, I have chosen to work on confronting reality I am the eternal optimist and can ignore or reframe difficulties in an effort to create inspiration for the solution.  Unfortunately, sometimes I get reinforcement to keep skipping past the difficult points and don’t address them in my solutions.  Now, I am choosing to stop and pay attention in the present moment to what is actually taking place.  Now, I will say to myself, "Why am I avoiding the truth of what is going on?  Does it hurt too much?  Will it hurt someone else if I speak of it?  Does the problem feel too big to solve?  Does it sound so difficult that I won't get any help?"  Probably none of my fears will come true.  The situation will be easier to work on when I actually face what is taking place and discuss it with others involved.  When we can discuss the elephant in the middle of the room, we can work together to get it moved out of the way.

In my next blog post, I will explore some ideas about how to restore trust.  In the meantime, how are you doing in maintaining trust in your relationships?  What can you do to enhance trust starting today?  Post a comment and share!  We’d love to hear from you.


Sylvia Lane