By Bruce MacAllister and Diana Mosonyi 

Today’s global environment seems hectic and unpredictable. As we emerge from our self-imposed seclusion and re-enter the wider world, trust an essential element. Many recent events demonstrate that an essential element of social engagement is trust. For a society to function, trust at all levels, is essential. It is a fundamental element in our social institutions.  We have to trust that our medical establishment is fully functional. We have to trust, that when we have an encounter with law enforcement, that we can rely on those charged with protecting us to actually protect us.  We have to be able to trust our government officials to provide honest assessments and accurate information so that we can feel reasonably secure in our movements and actions. We have to be able to trust each other to abide by reasonable measures that are proven to help us all be more safe and secure.  It is, in fact, trust which makes us stronger in our struggle together with these turbulent times. If we cannot trust our institutions, we must change them.

Of course, it is unrealistic to expect that one article can provide all the tools necessary to address all of today’s challenges.  But if, together, we embrace some simple steps to engage and build trust in our personal interactions, perhaps we can lead a sea change.  We offer some tips and incremental suggestions for  actions and activities to help you build comfortable, predictable relationships, focusing on both your personal and professional level. As with all of our suggestions, you should feel free to adapt or modify them to fit your style and your individual needs, or discard them completely should they not be right for you.

We appreciate that recent events have shaken peoples’ ability to trust and we acknowledge that the focus of this article is directed more to the self, than it is to responding to the major, chronic, unaddressed issues that cloud trust at a broader social level.  These issues must be addressed, but even in motivating to work to address the broader social issues, it is beneficial to work from a centered and solid personal platform supported by others in whom you have complete trust.

We hope that you find these simple suggestions helpful – even if used to prompt your own activities to remain personally and professionally balanced, challenged, and engaged.

Trust based on little steps! What little steps will you take today ? 

Trust on a personal level

As with so many things, trust begins with working from a healthy core or “self.”  To build trust with others, one must, themselves, be trustworthy. This inevitably means that we must be authentic in our commitments to others, so that we will actually follow through and become someone who is trusted by others.  Consider the following tips and Ideas:

  • Focus on a healthy self:
    • Believe yourself.
    • How do you protect your own needs and safety?
    • Suggested activity:
      • Spend extra time on an activity that you really enjoy and practice  until you gain/build  enough confident in yourself.
  • Self-trust:
    • Set & maintain personal boundaries.
    • When was the last time you said No?
    • Suggested activity:
      • Pay attention your emotion when you say yes. Are you happy your commitment? Is it something you will follow through with authentically, or is it really a burden? We can’t always avoid commitments that we are not all that excited about. But, if we pause to consider, we can often avoid commitments that we are not sincere about.
  • Trust others:
    • Trust in others.
    • Do you give trust first to others or expect first to trust in you?
    • Suggested activity:
      • Write down person names whom you trust unconditionally. Is it a large sphere or a small one? If a small one, is it constraining you?
  • Challenge yourself:
    • Share your feelings. Open up to someone.
    • When was the last time you shared of hurt, shame, or a sense of betrayal?  
    • Suggested activity:
      • Share your feelings constructively with someone who will listen and understand.
  • Cooperate with another:
    • Share positive feedback with a friend that you care about.
    • Is there someone you trust to provide you feedback?
    • Suggested activity:
      • Reach out to a trusted friend and seek honest feedback.

Building Trust in your Professional Circle

To be trusted on a professional level truly helps build your overall level of professional respect.  If you can be relied on to follow through with your commitments and meet your timelines, people simply “trust” you. As in managing your personal world, trust begins with working from a healthy professional  “self.”  Consider the following tips and ideas to enhance trust levels in your professional world:

  • Focus on a healthy professional core:
    • Focus on authenticity and limit your commitments to those that you can fulfill. Be true to your word and realistic in your commitments.
    • If you commit to it, do it. Are there examples where you have not followed through? 
    • Suggested activity:
      • Do a self-evaluation and consider what factors led you to fail to follow through?  What would you change so that you could keep the commitment the next time?
  • Self-trust:
    • Believe in yourself and be sure that you are believable.
    • Do you ask for help when you need it?
    • Suggested activity:
      • The next situation where you are unsure how to proceed or you feel  stuck, ask your colleague for help or for their suggestions on how to proceed.
  • Trust others:
    • To be clear and forthright is to be kind, even if it is not the answer the other desires: As shame researcher and author, Brené Brown puts it, “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.”
    • Do you communicate clearly your needs?
    • Suggested activity:
      • Confirm that your friends and colleagues understand where you are coming from. 
      • Pay attention your emotion when you say yes. Are you happy with your commitment or is there lingering discomfort that makes your commitment less then sincere and authentic?
  • Challenge yourself and push your limits:
    • Admit mistakes.
    • When was the last time you admitted to a mistake? How did you feel about it?
    • Suggested activity:
      • Talk through a recent mistake  with someone who can you trust. Seek their perspectives and constructive feedback.
      • How does clearing the air make you feel? What did you learn from the feedback?
  • Build Trust through Collaboration
    • In a group setting, focus on beginning the interactions with full and open commitments to honesty and accuracy. Watch this approach grow into a group norm and a part of group culture.
    • How does it feel to be part of a team where full trust and honesty is the norm?
    • Suggested activity:
      • Openly commit to full honesty on your team and seek the same from others. When a lapse occurs – a deadline is missed, or there is a misunderstanding – use caring, positive, communication to share how the lapse affected you.

The tips included in this post of simple, but they are based on tried and true concepts. The old adage that “Trust is earned,” is accurate.  There will be inevitable lapses and mistakes. A proven way to move forward, though, is to honestly own your own lapses, and to openly and in a caring way, share how the lapse of another impacted you. Continue to seek commitments to full honestly and responsible commitment with responsible limits.

We hope you find these simple tips helpful!

Bruce MacAllister and Diana Mosonyi

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