“Trust is a peculiar resource; it is built rather than depleted by use.” ~ Unknown
To build trust, we must use our self-awareness and self-management skills which we’ve acquired over time. Determining the level of trust we need to cultivate depends on the connection which we identify with others. For example, the barista who makes my coffee drink gets a different level of commitment to trust with me that the woman I share my life with. The project manager or resource coordinator of a business account gets a different level of commitment than a field engineer does. Now, none of these holds more or less value, simply some don’t require as much attention as others. It really comes down to focus and priority.
By using social awareness skills, we need to ask others what needs to happen to increase the current level of trust. Being sure to actually listen to the answer. This helps build trust, and overall deepens the relationship.
Here are few key points I’ve found that aid in building trust:
1. Open Communication – The willingness to share ourselves and what is important to us with others often helps establish a common understanding. If done honestly and wholeheartedly, the driving force of positive actions will allow for a foundation to be created, one in which can be used for continued growth.
2. Consistency in Words, Actions, and Behavior – Following through with what we say we are going to do is a huge part of building trust. When we commit to something, regardless of size, it’s still a commitment and must be followed through in order for it to have any value. Whether it be following through with a return phone call, arriving on time for dinner plans, meeting a school/work related deadline, or planning long term family goals. Any of these can “make or break” a friendship/relationship. No matter what size the commitment, no matter what level of importance, what we say to others as to what we’re going to do, it’s up to us to follow through. Otherwise, we can’t be taken seriously. We eventually establish a characteristic with others that we are “true to our word(s)” and display respect and integrity, or allow for ourselves to be seen as one who cannot be trusted, and often at times considered a liar. This is a very difficult place to be in and most often requires a deep look in the mirror. Otherwise, we’ll never be able to repair what we’ve damaged.
3. Avoid Giving Mixed Signals – How we communicate, whether it be via the written word, spoken word– consisting of the tone of voice, and/or body language – determine the level of accuracy which others will perceive us. The signals we send to the people in our relationships are made through proactive conversation and feedback. When we express feelings, we express the truth. More often than not, these expressions are raised to a heightened level through our reactions and body language, regardless of the words we choose. In a world that is saturated by text messaging, which is usually limited to 140 characters or less, our “on the fly” lifestyles that we’ve adapted in the fast paced and fairly disconnected society, it seems that we rarely establish an accurate means of dialogue. I’ve seen some of the world’s best authors and speakers completely misconceived due to a single letter typo, improper punctuation, or quick witted answer.
Something to consider: People will always trust what they see over what they hear. Actions speak louder than words… so focus on following through with everything you commit to. Otherwise, why bother?