Using Trust to Maintain Relationships
“Trust me.” How often have we heard someone say that concerning a statement? How often have we used that expression ourselves? “Trust me” has become so overused that often when we hear it said we then think anything but “trust.” However, trust is a basic tenet to secure, satisfying, rewarding relationships. Trust is a firm belief in the reliability, truth, integrity, or ability of someone or something.
In a social context, trust has several connotations. Definitions of trust typically refer to a situation characterized by the following: one party is willing to rely on the actions of another party; the situation is directed to the future. And in many situations, the trustor abandons control over the actions performed by the one to be trusted. As a consequence, the trustor may be in a position of uncertainty about the outcome of the other’s actions. The trustor can only develop and evaluate expectations, or shall we say, have hope, have faith. The uncertainty of trust involves the risk of failure or harm to the trustor if the trustee will not behave as expected or desired.
Stephen Covey said, “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” A person who exhibits trustworthy behavior might say, “Because you believed, I was capable of behaving appropriately; you trusted me.” Trust is earned and granted as a result of our experience with others.
Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” Someone once said the most expensive thing in the world is trust. It can take years to earn and a matter of seconds to lose.
The point is we must know who we can presume to trust. Ernest Hemingway said, “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” That presumption of trust must be founded on what the other party has shown in past relationships. Of course, trust is a two-way street. To gain and keep trust one must also be trustworthy. Harper Lee wrote in her famous book To Kill A Mockingbird, “Trusting is hard. Knowing who to trust, even harder.” When the level of trust is high in a relationship, whether professional or personal, communication is easy and effective.
So trust is a key element to establishing and maintaining productive, rewarding relationships in both our personal as well as our professional lives. It is a great compliment to a person to say or at least imply that they have one’s trust. And it is flattering to know that someone has placed their complete trust in us. To be trusted does not mean one must be perfect in the trust relationship. Alison Croggon said, “We are all mistaken sometimes; sometimes we do wrong things, things that have bad consequences. But it does not mean we are evil, or that we cannot be trusted ever afterward.” An honest mistake should be forgiven, and deceit should not. Rick Warren once wrote, “Forgiveness must be immediate, whether or not a person asks for it. Trust must be rebuilt over time. Trust requires a track record.”
Building and keeping trust is both easy and hard. It is hard when we are tempted to place ourselves ahead of what the other person expects and might gain from us. It is easy when winner, or loser, gain, or loss is not an aspect of a trust relationship. A trusting relationship is one where those in the relationship will not take undue advantage of opportunistic situations.
We would love to hear from you. Send us your comments and stories on how trust has helped you maintain relationships at firstname.lastname@example.org.