Have you ever had a successful relationship without trust?
This is something that I have been thinking about a lot lately. I had an experience recently with one of my kid’s coaches. I was specific about a situation where I explained that my child didn’t feel comfortable. I offered a solution that my child had come up with. An alternative solution that they felt more comfortable with. The next time my child met with their coach, the coach insisted that they move forward the original way – their way – the way my child had been clear about not feeling comfortable with. This was upsetting for my child who immediately felt unable to trust the coach. I felt the same way too.
Trust is something that we build when we have understanding – of self AND others.
When you look at the definition of trust it has been described as “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something” per the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. This essentially means that trust is relying on someone (self and/or other) to do the right thing. Which for many can be hard. However, without trust there is no safety. And if there’s no safety, how do we build successful relationships?
Now, I admit when I entered into the relationship with my kid’s coach I did so with assumptions. I assumed that we both wanted what is best for the kids. More accurately, I trusted we both wanted what is best for the kids. However, in this case the coach was focused on what was best for him, not the kid. When we focus solely on our own needs and are closed to understanding the needs of others, it is really challenging to build trust. Or feel safe.
For most, people would rate trust as the foundation to a successful relationship.
If we are too focused on ourselves and have no understanding of others, it is hard to build trust. If we have no understanding of self it is also challenging to have understanding of others. Once again, difficult to build trust. However, if we have an understanding of self it makes it easier to have awareness, and understanding, of others.
Understanding the needs of others doesn’t mean that you have to like what they need, or even agree with what they need.
It means you understand what works best for them. As a leader, this allows you to better understand your team and their needs so they can produce the best results. This is how they take appropriate risks, speak up, share knowledge, collaborate and innovate. They feel safe to do so. As parents it is no different. Often you hear kids say they don’t trust their parents because they make choices or decisions based on what is best for the parent, not the child. At least that is the perspective of the child. Of course, the parent’s perspective would be they are making the best choice for their child. The disconnect is the lack of understanding on both parts. Without trust the child may not feel safe and secure enough to share everything with their parents. And vice versa. Which can be challenging and with repercussions.
As humans we all want to be seen, heard and understood.
This is how we build trust and how we feel safe. The only way we can do that is with curious conversations. Curiosity allows us to have a better understanding of who we are, how we show up, what we want, and how we are triggered. When we know who we are, when we trust in ourselves, we have the confidence to focus on others.
4 Steps To Building Trust
- Understand YOU: Take the time to understand what is important to you in your relationships and in your life. If you don’t know what you want it is really hard to live in alignment, be happy, OR trust yourself, let alone others. If you don’t understand yourself, it is hard to understand others.
- Choose How You Listen: When you are in a conversation are you listening to judge or are you listening to learn? When we listen to judge we aren’t open to understanding what is going on for others. We are focused on self. We think we know what is best and act upon it. In this listening choice we are also judging, blaming and shaming – all of which stand in the way of building trust with others.
- Ask Open Questions: Focus on asking questions that begin with who, what, where, when and how. This is how we learn about and understand others. It is also how we keep the focus on others rather than ourselves. If you get stuck thinking of an open question, “tell me more” is a great way to continue to gain understanding.
- Manage Your Emotions: Understanding your emotional triggers helps you stay in conversations where you keep the focus on others rather than reacting and making it about you. Understanding how to manage your emotions to respond rather than react is essential in building trust in relationships.
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Co-Founder of The Institute of Curiosity, Co-Author of The Power of Curiosity, Communication Ambassador for Wealthy Woman Warrior™
We specialize in high-quality conversations that build high-quality relationships. That means we help people STOP reacting (to people, emotions, events) and learn to start RESPONDING to engage and inspire others, especially in emotional or high stakes situations.