A Conversation To Build Trust

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If we understand the components of trust (i.e. boundaries, reliability, accountability, etc.) we can better identify and communicate where we are hurt or in need of more trust. This will help begin a healthful and non-threatening conversation with our partner, friend or family member.

In fact, this could alter our relationships, because it gives us a common language and understanding of the components of trust. Sometimes we can’t quite put our finger on why we feel off, but the inventory below gives us a structure to pin point what isn’t working quite right, and so begins a conversation.

Boundaries: You respect my boundaries, and when you’re not clear about what’s okay and not okay, you ask. You’re willing to say no and you ask for what you need.

Their strengths: _______________________________________________________________

Their opportunities for growth: ___________________________________________________

My strengths: _________________________________________________________________

My opportunities for growth: ____________________________________________________

Reliability: You do what you say you’ll do. This means staying aware of your competencies and limitations so you don’t over-promise and are able to deliver on commitments and balance competing priorities.

Their strengths: _______________________________________________________________

Their opportunities for growth: __________________________________________________

My strengths:
_______________________________________________________________

My opportunities for growth: ___________________________________________________

Accountability: You own your mistakes, apologize, and make amends. You don’t blame others for your mistakes and when you need to hold others accountable you do so honestly and with respect.

Their strengths: ______________________________________________________________

Their opportunities for growth: _________________________________________________

My strengths: _______________________________________________________________

My opportunities for growth: __________________________________________________

Vault: You don’t share information or experiences that are not yours to share. I need to know that my confidences are kept, and that you’re not sharing with me any information about other people that should be confidential.

Their strengths: ______________________________________________________________

Their opportunities for growth: _________________________________________________

My strengths: _______________________________________________________________

My opportunities for growth: __________________________________________________

Integrity: You choose courage over comfort. You choose what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy. And you choose to practice your values rather than simply professing them.

Their strengths: _____________________________________________________________

Their opportunities for growth: ________________________________________________

My strengths: ______________________________________________________________

My opportunities for growth: _________________________________________________

Non-judgment: I can ask for what I need, and you can ask for what you need. We can talk about how we feel without judgment.

Their strengths: ____________________________________________________________

Their opportunities for growth: _______________________________________________

My strengths: _____________________________________________________________

My opportunities for growth: ________________________________________________

Generosity: You extend the most generous interpretation possible to the intentions, words, and actions of others.

Their strengths: ___________________________________________________________

Their opportunities for growth: ______________________________________________

My strengths: ____________________________________________________________

My opportunities for growth: _______________________________________________

 

Until next time …

Braving to Build Trust

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In my last blog, I related how in relationships, we all have opportunities to build trust or betray the trust of another.  To choose not to connect when the opportunity is there, to decide to ‘turn away’ from our partner and choose not to meet their need, is a moment of betrayal. However, in those moments when we choose to ‘turn towards’ our partner and help address his or her need, in our willingness to connect, are we doing the important work of building trust.

Trust and betrayal is found in our willingness to connect with one another.

Brene Brown helps to build our understanding of trust by giving us a language to talk about it. She says, “When we trust, we are braving connection with someone.”

So what is trust?

Brown conveniently gives us the acronym B-R-A-V-I-N-G, which are the components or anatomy of trust:

B – Boundaries I promise to hold my own boundaries and respect yours both personally and professionally.  There is not trust without boundaries.

R – Reliability I promise to do what I say I’m going to do, not once, but over and over and over again.  I can only trust you if you do what you say you’ll do.

A – Accountability I promise to own, apologize, and make amends for what I do that hurts you.  I can only trust you if when you make a mistake, you’re willing to own it, apologize for it and make amends.  I can only trust you if when I make a mistake, I am allowed to own it, apologize and make amends.

V – Vault I promise that what I share with you I will hold in confidence, and I expect the same.  I acknowledge that telling even my closest friends a confidence shows I am untrustworthy.  I can only trust you if I know you can keep a confidence.

I – Integrity I promise to always act from a place of integrity. Brown’s definition of integrity: “Choosing courage over comfort, choosing what’s right over what’s fun, fast or easy, and practicing your values not just professing your values.”

N – Non-judgment I promise that you and I can fall apart and that you can ask me for help without judgment.  You and I both can struggle and ask for help without judgment.

G – Generosity I promise you can always assume generously about my actions and I will do the same for you.  Our relationship is only a trusting relationship if you can assume the most generous thing about my words, intentions and behaviours.  And then check in with me.

B-R-A-V-I-N-G.

Using this language helps to decipher where the problem might be in building trust in relationships with those closest to us.

How can these seven components or elements of trust be used as a tool to understand and talk about trust in your relationship(s)?

Until next time …

Sliding Door Moments

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As I noted in my previous blog, trust is fundamental to any relationship, and yet, we often fall short in how we understand and talk about trust to each other. To say, “I don’t trust that person,” is a statement that provides no direction about what needs to change, and keeps us at an arms-length distance from people.

Fortunately, Brene Brown helps to build our understanding of trust, giving us a language to talk about it, and helping us to better identify and communicate where we are hurt or need more trust.

The first thing we noted was how trust is built in very small moments: The building blocks of trust happen in the seemingly ordinary moments. Remembering someone’s name, voluntarily introducing yourself to your friend’s parents, attending a colleague’s family funeral, remembering others significant moments. Moments like these, Brown notes, are what research has shown to be the building blocks of trust, a lot like a marble jar.

John Gottman, a world renowned author, therapist, and researcher of relationships, esp. marriage, calls these seemingly insignificant moments, sliding door moments. He says, we do the important work of building trust in our relationships, in the moments when we choose to “turn towards” our partner and help address his/her need. It is found in our willingness to connect.

Which leads us to the second thing, we have opportunities to build trust or to betray the trust of another. “To choose not to connect when the opportunity is there, is a moment of betrayal.”

Gottman says, “betrayal is more than just breaking trust, like lying or having an affair, it is the continued decision to ‘turn away’ from your partner and choose to not meet a need. It is rooted in the belief, “I can do better than him/her. Do I really have to deal with his/her needs again?” This leads to a pattern of disconnection, of not committing to a relationship.

“Trust and betrayal are found in our willingness to connect.”

Question: What are some “sliding door” moments that have built trust in your relationships?  When have you allowed a “sliding door” moment to slip away and missed an opportunity to truly connect with someone else?

Until next time …

What to Do If You Struggle with Trust

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Over the next few blogs, I would like to share some thoughts on the topic of trust, and to get your response.

Trust is fundamental to any relationship, critical in every aspect of our lives, and yet we struggle with how to talk about it. When we say, “I just don’t trust you” to someone, it rarely helps. It’s overwhelmingly painful to hear and it gives us no direction about what specifically needs to change.

Brene Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston’s Graduate School of Social Work, who has tackled this in her, “The Anatomy of Trust.” In fact, she lays out a whole new definition and way of talking about trust.  As always, her storytelling is on par.

She explained how trust is a lot like a marble jar, which was a discipline and reward system her daughter’s teacher used in the classroom. If the class did positive things, marbles went in the jar and there’s a party when the jar is full. If the class did something negative, then marbles are taken out of the jar. When her daughter came home from school hurt and afraid to trust again because some friends broke her trust, Brown said to her, “Trust is like a marble jar. You share those hard stories and those hard things that are happening to you with friends who over time you’ve filled up their marble jar. They’ve done thing after thing after thing where you know you can trust this person.”

We often think trust is built by grand gestures at crucial moments in our lives, but trust is typically built with simplicity and small actions. After looking at the research Brown concludes, “It’s very clear. Trust is built in very small moments.”

How do you respond to what Dr. Brown has observed?  What do you think?

Until next time …