July 2014 Issue #43
Today's Topic: How to up the trust level in your relationships
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Trust is such a big part of my work – and such a huge factor in the success of any business. Thank you for trusting me with your email address – please know that I would never pass it on. I consider it a privilege to communicate with you in this way. Read on for strategies to deepen the trust in your relationships.
Have a wonderful summer!
Something to think about
The key is to get to know people and trust them to be who they are. Instead, we trust people to be who we want them to be – and when they’re not, we cry.
Trust is a key factor
When I was a young woman, struggling to deal with a boyfriend who often failed to follow through on his promises, my mother wisely advised me, “If you don’t have trust, you don’t have anything to build on.” Sadly, it took me many years to realize the wisdom of her words. Believing that love and attraction would conquer all, I wrestled with numerous breakdowns in trust and wondered why the relationship wasn’t working.
Trust is a powerful and precious variable in all of our relationships – personal and professional. When it is present, all things become possible. Problems are resolved more easily, communication is more effective, individuals work well together and all of life seems to run more smoothly.
When trust is missing, productivity and joy decline. We jockey to protect ourselves, are reluctant to expose our true feelings and vulnerabilities and cynically expect others to let us down. And we often get to be right about that.
Trust affects everyone
Some time ago, I spoke to a networking group about how to build trust in their personal and business relationships. At the outset I asked these business women, “Who has ever terminated a business relationship because of a breakdown in trust?” The entire room raised their hands.
They went on to give examples of business partners or associates who had embezzled money, failed to do their fair share of the work, showed up for meetings late or drunk, etc. Eventually, each woman ended that problematic business relationship – often after a lot of angst and heartache.
When I asked if any of the women had ever ended a personal relationship because of a trust issue, I received the same unanimous response. ALL had experienced a breakdown of trust at some time. We are painfully clear about the importance of trust when we feel our trust has been betrayed.
If our relationships grow and flourish in proportion to the trust we share, then it makes sense to do everything we can to build that trust.
So how do we do that?
Trust is a complex topic with a lot of nuance, depending on the nature and the context of the relationship. However these three strategies will go a long way towards minimizing the trust breakdowns you experience with others and that other people experience with you.
#1 Keep your promises.
Trust builds when you can count on another person to do what they say they will. When they repeatedly deliver on their promise, trust grows. If they fail to “walk their talk”, then trust is eroded.
So if you want to be taken seriously and be seen as trustworthy: Keep your word. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver on. And if you can’t keep a promise, own up to it and honourably renegotiate it. Apologize. Make amends and look to see what will work for the other person. Take YOUR WORD seriously – ultimately, it’s the only credibility you have. This is true in business and this is certainly true in love.
#2 Communicate your boundaries.
Boundaries are those invisible lines of protection that we draw around our bodies, hearts and minds. Our boundaries define what we will and won’t tolerate. Yes, you can give me a hug. No, you can’t yell at me. Yes, you can borrow that book. No, you can’t use my credit card.
When we clearly let others know about our boundaries, they will know how not to violate or harm us – and be less likely to do so. This helps us feel safe and increases our trust that we are respected by the other. We have taken responsibility for being treated in a trustworthy way.
Boundaries are a form of trust-breakdown-prevention. If we’re committed to having boundaries, we won’t continue to hang around someone who doesn’t respect them. When we have strong boundaries, we also tend to be more respectful of another’s boundaries -- which leads to their increased trust in us.
#3 Check out your assumptions.
Don’t assume that you know how it is for the other or what is really going on in their minds. It’s easy to jump to conclusions based on observed behaviour: He’s a jerk. She’s rude. He doesn’t care about me
. She’s self-absorbed.
Your assumptions about another’s behaviour are only one viewpoint. The other person also has a valid viewpoint and it may not jive with yours. For example, if your loved one is late for dinner or a date, there may be any number of possible interpretations of what has happened – everything from: “She’s rude and inconsiderate and doesn’t care about me” to “She’s stopped on her way here to pick up a bottle of my favourite wine” to “She’s caught in a traffic jam.”
It’s only by listening to the reality of another that we can understand how it really is for them – and have our assumptions altered – sometimes radically. Trust can be rebuilt in the process. Or we can discover that this is indeed someone who doesn’t warrant our trust – and we can adjust our expectations accordingly.
Trust is a complex dynamic and there are no simple answers for every situation. The work of building trust requires a commitment to hold yourself accountable for your promises and your boundaries -- and the courage to open yourself to truly hearing another's perspective. It also requires letting go of “being right”!
Use these three strategies to prevent trust breakdowns. And when -- despite your best efforts and intentions -- a breakdown does occur, use these strategies to help you diagnose what happened and communicate about it. Navigating these breakdowns will deepen your self-awareness AND your relationships.
Invitation to action
Which of these three areas is most challenging for you?
- Keeping your promises?
- Communicating your boundaries?
- Checking your assumptions?
What is one small step that you can take to improve in that area? Implement that small step this week and notice what happens.
I am delighted to be heading off shortly to Ontario for a family gathering to celebrate my parents' 70th wedding anniversary. Yes, 70th! They continue to inspire me in navigating the changing seasons of life and marriage.
Having been an exchange student many years ago and knowing the challenges of learning another language, I was really moved by a video entitled Exchanging Language and Love
. It's about a program that connects students in Brazil with seniors in a Chicago retirement community to engage in conversation over the internet. The result is truly inspiring -- a real win-win! Enjoy!
Shirley Vollett BSW PCC is a Life and Relationship Coach, with over 25 years of combined experience in counselling and coaching. She delights in helping pro-active individuals make positive changes in their lives, their work/business and their relationships. Her clients appreciate her ability to listen deeply, her compassionate wisdom and her support in staying focused. Contact Shirley for a complimentary intro phone session. If you are experiencing a challenge or are eager to make some changes, explore how coaching works and how she can help. Click on a link below or visit her website.