|Trust is the key to any healthy relationship. Whether it is a personal or business interaction, trust allows for open communication and mutual respect. It sets the participants up for a win-win and a higher likelihood that pleasant, peaceful, and productive dialogue can take place.
Enjoyment also increases when there is trust. Yet we've all encountered people who, either immediately or over time, have eroded trust by their actions, inability to follow-through, or by downright lying. The result is avoidance, suspicion, and distrust of anything the person may have to say going forward, even if it's the truth.
Credibility is at stake, along with the quality of our relationships. When people trust us, we have credibility. People believe in us and we are willing to consider what the trustworthy person has to say. We come across as responsible, caring, and stable. When they don't, there is little we can do to regain trust once it's been broken. Lying, cheating, acting for one's own benefit, and not considering others, all lead to unhealthy and distrustful relationships.
Given that we demonstrate trustworthy behavior at the outset, trust is built and maintained over the course of the relationship. Even if trust is gained right away, ongoing honorable behaviors and interactions are essential to continue having trust in one another.
So what inspires trust?
Congruency, where what the person or entity (like a company) says and does are aligned. Facial expressions are appropriate for the words, such as apologizing and having a facial expression of regret rather than apologizing with a tone and expression of anger and resentment. We could say something like “It doesn’t matter.” And depending on the tone, then the perception is going to change. If you hang your head and say “It doesn’t matter” in a low tone, it indicates disappointment. If you say it with a playful hand gesture like shooing, it indicates that it’s not a big deal. With arms crossed in a sharp tone gives it an angry implication.
Whether consciously or subconsciously, we are aware of these subtle indicators and must look beyond what is being said. Look at how the words are being delivered (accentuating particular words, changes in tone, volume, etc.) as well as the non-verbal signs accompanying those words (body language, facial expressions, etc.). We pay attention to all of these cues in others and need to be aware of our own way of expressing ourselves to gain trust.
Consistency, where the person or entity acts with integrity over a length of time. They say what they mean and do what they promise. This includes being honest no matter the fear of the outcome, having an ethical approach to doing business or behaving in a friendship, and a sense of fairness in all interactions, where all viewpoints are considered and discussed. If we struggle with this concept, then it's worthwhile to do a self-assessment of what we fear that may drive us to find it easier to lie, manipulate, or control the other person.
Compassion, where the person or entity cares and shows caring for others and the world; working toward a common good, where the actions taken demonstrate a lifting-up of those who need it. They treat others with respect regardless of their work, their level of understanding, or their path in life. Those who seem uncaring are less likely to be trusted; if they don't show compassion in one aspect of life, it's unlikely that they may show it in another area when it comes to relationships. We trust a person because we feel that they have our best interest at heart and are trying to help. They provide valuable information and life lessons to enhance understanding rather than demeaning someone or showing superiority. The trustworthy person acts for the highest good.
Using the three C's of Trust - Congruency, Consistency, and Compassion - will boost our trustworthy factor exponentially. Even if we haven't been completely open and honest up to this point, it's never too late to start on the path of honor, integrity, and truth.
Copyright Diane Wing, M.A.
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