What Does Trust Look Like…

“How are we ever going to be able to move ahead with this level of lack of trust?!” I allowed for a solid pause before responding, “How are you experiencing a lack of trust?” Without hesitation he replied, “No one appears to really understand what confidentiality is. Consequently, people are reticent to share their real opinions and perspectives…except in the parking lot.”

In The Thin Book of Trust, leadership expert Charles Feltman defines trust as “Choosing to risk making something you value vulnerable to another person’s actions.” Conversely, distrust as “What is important to me is not safe with this person in this situation (or any situation).”

Feltman suggests the following behavior indicators:

Cooperating, Collaborating, Engaging in conversations, Dialogue and debate of ideas, Listening, Communicating freely, Supporting others, Sharing information, Offering ideas, Expecting the best, Willingness to examine own actions

Defending, Direct attack, Resisting, Blaming, Complaining, Judging, Avoiding / ignoring, Withholding information and ideas, Expecting the worst, Justifying protective actions based on distrust

The four distinctions of trust:
Sincerity, Reliability, Competence, Care

In my experience establishing trust is an intentional building process. It is a series of small steps of trust that consistently create a space where there is an increased willingness to make one’s self vulnerable. For me two critical components in establishing trust are transparent openness and authentic understanding of confidentiality. Specifically, for folks to truly trust there needs to be a firm belief that those they are sharing with are in a posture of deep listening rather than judging. And second, that which is being shared is being held in the space between the two parties. Ironically, some folks understanding of confidentiality is that it is still okay to share with one person at a time in their closest circle.

Trust threads through all the relationships of our lives. One of the reasons people feel isolated is that they don’t believe they can trust anyone. One of the reasons people feel alone is they don’t believe they can trust others. These feelings are not without merit or justification. Once you’ve been bitten by having your trust betrayed it’s a heavy lift to trust again. Yet not to do so is to lose out on living into the fullness of who we are and to potentially have a life of shallow relationships.

I find Maya Angelou’s words helpful in navigating the work of building trust:

Have enough courage to trust love
one more time,
and always,
one more time.

4 thoughts on “What Does Trust Look Like…”

  1. So deep. So searching. So true. In my life, trusting that God loves and cares for me in every situation no matter what, has become the firm foundation for being able to freely experiment with trusting other flawed human beings like me.

  2. “…people are reticent to share their real opinions and perspectives…except in the parking lot.” Whoo boy, how true is that! Nothing quite so uncomfortable as being buttonholed in the parking lot by someone wanting to vent but not to the group.

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