We’re getting trust all wrong. Too often we embrace a pessimistic view of trust, and we’re reaping low trust as a result. The view that others must earn our trust has the ring of truth to it. However, it’s missing something important.
Trust Is Nurtured
What’s missing is 100% Responsibility. Trust is both a noun and a verb. Like love, it is a state of being and an action. When we take 100% Responsibility for maintaining high trust relationships, a gap in trust motivates us to take action to close the gap, even when we did not cause the gap in trust. To wait for others to “earn our trust” is a form of helplessness. In effect, we are saying we are powerless to do anything about it. It leads to passivity. However, we can always choose to take action to build trust.
When Others Fail
When others fail, we can choose how we interpret that failure. We can see it as evidence of the person’s lack of ability, or we can see it as a growth opportunity. One view leads to punishment, the other leads to coaching. When we make a choice to coach through failure, we are making a choice to grow trust. Our trust in the other person grows when we see them learn through their experiences. Their trust in us grows when we approach it as a learning opportunity. The same holds true when we fail. We can either beat ourselves up, or we can learn, grow, and move on.
When There Is Brokenness
When others let us down by breaking trust, we can choose to take steps to restore the relationship, or we can choose to be passive and wait for the other person to act. It is all too easy to make excuses and blame the other person when these situations occur. When we choose to have a difficult conversation and approach the other person with humility – motivated by a sincere desire for healing – we create the right conditions for restoring trust. In fact, healthy conflict is the path to high trust.
When There Is a Gap in Experience
If we wait for other people to “earn our trust”, it will never happen. A less experienced person will never do it as well as you can – until they have the experience! When we refuse to extend trust, we are saying, “I don’t trust you.” Remember, others will trust us to the degree we extend trust to them. I am not recommending blind trust. There is equipping that must take place before extending trust. However, If we aren’t active and intentional to extend trust where failure is possible, the growth will never happen. Low trust will be the result.
When We Let Someone Down
Whether intentional or unintentional, any time we fall short of someone else's expectations, we are damaging trust in the relationship. Many times, missed expectations are the result of poor communication – we had an honest misunderstanding about expectations. Other times, we simply fail to live up to our commitments or do something damaging that causes the other person to mistrust us. Regardless of the reason for the mistrust, we can take action to repair the damage by taking 100% Responsibility for our part. We can apologize and make amends. And more importantly, we can take ownership for how our behaviors impact others. We can work to be trustworthy.
In all these situations trust is an action. This is how we achieve high trust, by refusing to be passive when there is a gap in trust.
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