Building Trusting Relationships

July 8, 2024

Talent Engineer

Written By:

Lisa Russell | Talent Engineer

Trusting Relationships@2x

Trust takes years to build and seconds to break.

But why? We may think we all have the same understanding of trust. At a biological level, I think we might. We know what it feels like to trust someone. And we can name the people in our lives who we trust wholeheartedly. However, it becomes a bit more challenging when we attempt to articulate trust. Is it a feeling? An attitude? A choice? A gift? What is its substance? Is it tangible? Can it be measured? Why does it take so long to establish and only a moment to destroy?

These are big questions that cannot be answered in a single blog. Nonetheless, they are worthwhile considering, to guide us away from quick answers and invite us into deeper understanding.

Defining Trust

Trust is something experienced within relationships. It is created between the truster and the trusted. Further, these roles are not permanent. The trusted is also the truster and vice versa. Perhaps a more accurate way to say, “I trust her,” to express a trusting relationship—would be to say, “we have trust”.

Remember the trust-fall exercise? That terrifying social experiment where you fold your arms, close your eyes, fall back, and hope that your partner catches you? You may have experienced this in a middle school gym class or during a team-building exercise. This exercise is not only a great way to quickly build trust between people, but it can also expose whether a trusting relationship already exists.

When conducting the trust-fall exercise, if you already know your partner and have experienced them to be a trustworthy person in the past, you may eagerly participate and fall back without hesitation. If you are unfamiliar with your partner or have even the slightest concern that they may be untrustworthy, you will find it nearly impossible to relax enough to fall back.

Similarly, the catcher in this game has to trust that the person falling back will not do something to hinder their ability to catch well, (i.e., fall before both parties agree that they are ready).

How to Build Trust

Trust must be intentionally built. It is active; it is constantly being created and maintained. If you take a laissez-faire approach or think it will just naturally happen, you can be sure of one thing–you will develop a relationship without trust.

Trust requires forethought, planning, attention, action, and remembering. You must do what you say you will do, which requires you to remember what you said you will do. You must apologize for offenses big and small, which requires you to pay attention to the values, preferences, and emotional and psychological needs of the other person. You must admit when you do not know something, which requires you to be honest with yourself about the boundaries of your knowledge and your willingness to acknowledge this publicly.

To be clear, this does not mean you cannot make mistakes. In fact, trust is often strengthened when a rupture happens. For example, if you are unable to follow through on a commitment, as quickly as you can, acknowledge it. Communicate directly to the most impacted person, face-to-face if possible. State a clear plan of how to remedy the situation and follow through with it. Then do everything in your power to not make the exact same mistake again.

If this sounds like a lot of work, it is. But it is worth it, and necessary.

Benefits of Building Trusting Relationships

Trusting relationships are like the muscle of a society. With conscious effort and strengthening, trust is what gives us the ability to move. It is the intentional, consistent, daily actions over time between people that keep us all moving forward.

Some of the benefits of building trusting relationships are:

Trust increases productivity and performance.

When people trust each other, they can focus on their tasks and goals without worrying about being micromanaged, betrayed, or undermined. They can also share feedback and ideas more openly and constructively, leading to better outcomes and solutions.

Trust enhances morale and motivation.

When people trust each other, they feel valued and respected, which boosts their self-esteem and confidence. They also feel more engaged and committed to their work and their team, which reduces turnover and absenteeism.

Trust fosters creativity and innovation.

When people trust each other, they are more willing to take risks and try new things, knowing that they have the support and encouragement of their colleagues and leaders. They can also learn from their mistakes and failures, rather than hiding or blaming them, which leads to continuous improvement and learning.

Trust strengthens loyalty and retention.

When people trust each other, they are more likely to stay loyal and faithful to their partners, friends, family, and organizations. They are also more likely to refer and recommend others to join their network, creating positive word-of-mouth and reputation.

Trust requires all of us. I encourage you to start paying extra attention to your relationships. Take intentional steps to strengthen them, and you will experience how investing in trusting relationships allows us to experience thriving communities, families, partnerships, and businesses.

If you would like to discuss how to build a trusting culture, please reach out to the DISHER Talent Solutions team.

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