Building Trust



As a follow-up to last month’s post on underground motivations, let’s say that you’ve detected that the person you’re talking to isn’t quite comfortable communicating transparently with you. If you need to work with this person, or if you would just like to support this person in her/his growth, consider doing any combination of the following things:

  1. Determine *why* that other person might have reservations about communicating transparently with you. Below are some common reasons why she/he is not choosing to trust you and be transparent with you.
    1. It’s YOU: they heard from someone else that you may not be as trustworthy as you’d like to think.
    2. It’s THEM: they are not naturally trusting people and/or they’ve recently misplaced their trust.
    3. It’s the SITUATION: they are reacting to the instability of the circumstances for the individuals, group, company, industry.
  2. Once you know *why* someone is not easily trusting or communicating with you, and you’ve decided that you’re willing and able to fix it, decide whether you want to. It’s a commitment of time and energy to do so, don’t just fall into it and leave it half-way done, or you won’t be worth the trust someone else may have in you for next time.
  3. Next, have a discussion about whether the other person wants to work with you to figure out how to address the core underlying problem. And be OK with it if that other person decides that they don’t want to solve the problem, that you may not be the right person to solve the problem, that the timing isn’t right to fix the problem, etc. Just having you say that you know there’s a problem will help her/him acknowledge and accept that there’s a problem, and help them deal with it.
  4. Assuming that she/he would like your support in solving the problem, scope out all facets of the issue and all the stakeholders involved.
  5. Then strategize on how to fix the problem short term and long term.
  6. Whether or not you make progress in addressing the core issue, build a relationship based on trust with him/her.
  7. Make it OK to share transparently with you – be a safe sounding board and advocate.
  8. Remember that trust is a two-way street – act trustworthy, and call the other person on it if he or she is not doing the same.
  9. Try not to judge, but use your best judgment in helping him or her resolve any issues which strain your personal moral compass. Even go so far as to spell out your opinion and perspective and provide boundaries and even taboo topics if necessary, to ensure that you are true to your values, while also making it ‘safe’ for someone to share deeply with you.
  10. Building a relationship of trust means that you must accept the other person for who they are and be a neutral sounding board in as many areas as you can. Being honest with yourself about areas where you don’t feel comfortable doing so will help you succeed in this endeavor.

We hope that these thoughts and suggestions help you to create and grow relationships of trust with a wide network of people.

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