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  • Writer's pictureKelly Wright

Trust is Low

By Kelly Wright

Trust is tricky.

Trust is a key component for all relationships. But trust is tricky. It can be extended too quickly, and it can be shattered. When either of those happen, it can be impossible to restore. We are wired to trust, yet we have been hurt, leaving most of us much more comfortable distrusting than trusting.

trust fall

Trust means I believe you, I believe in you, I believe you’ll respect and take care of my heart, I believe you won’t hurt me, I believe you have my best interests in mind, I believe and don’t doubt.

We aspire to live out those words and although they sound simple and beautiful, we mess up and so do others. We’ve all experienced and caused the pain of broken trust. Life in the fallen world means we’ve had our hearts broken and we’ve broken hearts, we’ve hurt people and have been hurt by those we trusted, and we have let people down and have been let down by people.

As a counselor, I had to build trust with my clients. Until the first couple of sessions I had no real credibility or trust with the client. I needed to earn trust, which is actually a very healthy process. I had to be trustworthy in order to build a foundation where people were willing to explore and work through some of their story’s most vulnerable material. Trust must start out low and develop over time.

One of the foundational issues I saw in my counseling practice was issues of broken trust. People who had trusted or believed in someone else, only to have their trust shattered through choices and decisions that crushed them.

Trust is easy to give and incredibly difficult to rebuild.

Recently I attended the Global Leadership Summit at Algoa Correctional Center in Jefferson City. This worldwide leadership conference has hundreds of thousands of attendees around the world, filled with leaders who want to grow in their leadership.

This year most of the sessions addressed the critical topic of trust.

Whereas trust used to be our default emotion, we are now a very distrusting people. We’ve been burned too many times to trust, both personally and socially. We automatically don’t trust leaders or the media, and if our trust has been broken by someone close to us, it seems almost impossible to fully trust again.

In the first session of the summit, author and pastor Craig Groeschel shared three key components to create a culture of trust in both our personal and professional lives.

Transparency + Empathy + Consistency = Trust

Transparency is sharing truths that need to be shared. Groeschel said, “When there is decreased communication, there is increased uncertainty.” One key factor in creating trust is communication. We see this so often in relationships. Communication builds trust and communication also heals relationships when trust has been broken.

I saw this play out quite often when I did marriage counseling. A bottom-line issue that brought couples in for counseling would be broken trust. I would tell couples that it takes two to rebuild trust. The person who broke trust must be willing to be transparent and over-communicate.

Again, the more communication, the more certainty. For the person who has experienced broken trust, he or she must be willing to extend an opportunity for trust to grow and develop. This person must also be transparent and overcommunicate thoughts and feelings.

Next, empathy is having a heart to care. Trust is built when we feel like someone understands us. One key to feeling understood is being listened to. Groeschel recommends listening your way into trust. He shared these three questions to help facilitate trust through empathy: What are you most excited about? What is something you’d like me to know about you that I don’t know? What can I do to make your life easier?

These are great questions to ask those you supervise as well as friends and family.

We must listen and we also must notice and let those around you know that they matter. This phrase may be totally corny, but saying “I notice _______. You matter.” can create a bond of trust in your relationships.

Finally, consistency is steadiness over time. We build consistency and trust by being physically present and emotionally safe – day after day. To be consistent, we must reflect on these questions: What is it like to be on the other side of me? Are my expectations clear? Do those around me trust that I will do what I say I will do?

Most, if not all of us want to be trustworthy. But wanting to be and actually being trustworthy takes work. As you consider these three components for building trust, which area do you need to grow in most to build trust in your relationships? Spend some time making a game plan for growing in that area – your future self and those around you will appreciate it!

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