“Most good relationships are built on mutual trust and respect.” – Mona Sutphen Depending on the person and situation, the word trust can take on different meanings. For example, a person with a good heart who has never experienced betrayal is far more likely to confide in someone who’s reeling from an abusive relationship. Situationally, in a business environment, trustworthiness may be harder to earn than in a personal relationship.
Nan S Russell, an educational psychologist, sums up the word ‘trust’: “People mean different things when they use the word trust. Ask five friends and you’ll get five definitions. (There) are various kinds of trust – confidence trust, competence trust, relationship trust, basic trust, authentic trust, organizational trust, self-trust, situational trust, and leadership trust – to name just a few.” While trust may indeed be fluid by definition, there is one near-absolute truth: certain behaviors build trust faster than others.
1. Admit Your Mistakes
Mistakes – everyone makes them, but not everyone owns up to them. But if your objective is to create trust, admitting when you’ve screwed up is not an option. Ever heard the adage “The coverup is worse than the crime?” Well, this is especially true when you’re seeking to establish a reputation for trustworthiness.
2. Do What You Say You Will Do
Consistent, dependable and reliable behavior is one of the most expeditious ways to earn trust. If you make a promise, keep your word and follow through to the best of your ability. Most of us try, but sometimes things fall through the cracks. Minimize these mistakes and you’ll quickly build trust.
3. Give Trust
Commitment and trust is a reciprocal action. Ever seen the movie Meet the Parents? Robert Deniro’s character (Jack Burns) lectures Ben Stiller (Greg) on the “Burn’s Family Circle of Trust” which he prides himself on: “I keep nothing from you and you keep nothing from me – and round and round we go.”
4. Listen Mindfully
Mindfulness is observation without judgment. For illustrative purposes, think of the people you consider to be the most trustworthy in your life. The chances are that they’re willing to listen to you no matter your state of mind. Mindful (or active) listening is rare nowadays – a fact which makes the practice invaluable for establishing trust.
5. Show Interest
Demonstrating interest helps build relationships and reinforce trust. Showing interest is also critical to developing and maintaining rapport. You show interest in someone through being inquisitive and curious. If the person senses your sincerity, you’ll quickly earn their trust.
6. Communicate Openly
Sometimes being open and honest can be a bit uncomfortable. This is especially true if you’re conflict-avoidant, which many people are – and that’s okay. Open communication is easier when you define your intentions during the onset, act politely, and listen intently. Effective communication may be the most important aspect of developing trust.
7. Resolve Conflicts Swiftly
Conflict, in any form and to any degree, is counterproductive to establishing trust. Thus, it’s incredibly important to quash any conflicts as they arise and to do so quickly and efficiently. It is not necessary to approach conflict with a “conflict-like” mindset. Here’s an experiment: the next time someone gets angry with you – it doesn’t matter if it’s in traffic or at the office – smile politely and nod. You’ll be astonished at some of the responses you get (most will be positive!)
8. Be Exemplary
There’s no better way to establish a culture of trust in a relationship than to exemplify the behavior. If this sounds like a “blanket solution” for reciprocating trust, that’s because it is. Quite simply, making the conscious decision always, to tell the truth, be sincere, be responsible, refrain from gossip, and so forth will communicate to others that they can trust you. In return, you may find it’s much easier to trust them. Indeed, it is a “Circle of Trust.”
9. Be Self-Aware
Self-awareness is defined as “conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.” Renowned behavioral psychologist Nan S. Russell calls self-awareness “the missing ingredient’ for building trust. “(Too) often people don’t realize the messages that their actions send,” says Russell, “You can’t adjust your actions to communicate what you intend without self-awareness, ” and you can’t establish trust when the signals you send are the wrong ones.