Trust or rust!
A lot of things go into a relationship. But in the final analysis, the length of any relationship, indeed the depth and breadth of any relationship depends on one thing and one thing only, the trust in that relationship. Perhaps that’s why George McDonald, the renowned preacher said, “It is a greater compliment to be trusted than loved.”
That’s true on and off the job. If you want customers to remain loyal, to do more business with you, then build some extra trust with them. If you want more openness in your family, or a greater sense of closeness, then build some extra trust with them.
That’s right, build! You’re not stuck with your present level of trust. There’s some things you can do that will actually build the trust, or if need be, rebuild the trust, between you and another person.
First, ASSUME THE BEST ABOUT THE OTHER PERSON. When something goes wrong, or when the other person disappoints you, start by assuming the best. Don’t immediately jump into the fray, pound your desk, froth at the mouth, and demand to know why he/she did something so stupid.
Instead, honor the other person. Rather than focus on who’s to blame for what went wrong, focus on what can be done about it. That takes the focus off the past and off the other person. It puts the focus onto the future where the two of you can work together.
Besides, if you jump in too quickly, blaming someone for what happened, you’ll often embarrass yourself. You may find out that you’re really the one to blame. For example, you may have never trained that staff person to handle certain situations, or your instructions were ambiguous.
Second, STICK UP FOR THE OTHER PERSON. You build trust when you speak out on someone’s behalf, especially when it’s not politically popular or interpersonally comfortable. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “In the end we will not remember the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.”
I’ll never forget the time I chaired the task force of a charitable organization. Over a period of time, it came to my attention that the organization had misused funds on several occasions, either through ignorance or dishonesty. Either way, my task force members urged me to confront the Board and document my findings. They would be there to back me up. I did that, but not one of the task force members backed me up when the top leaders lashed out in defense and aggression. If nothing else, I learned that Dr. King was right; it was the silence of my “friends” that I remember the most today.
Third, REFUSE TO GOSSIP ABOUT THE OTHER PERSON. That’s not always easy. There’s something very alluring, and maybe even a little satisfying, about sharing a negative tidbit. It may make you feel a bit superior, but you’ve got to fight the urge to add to the gossip and the people bashing. You just can’t do it, if you ever want to build trust with the person you are discussing. You see–the real art of communication and trust is not only saying the right thing at the right time, it’s also resisting to say the wrong thing at the tempting moment.
Fourth, KEEP YOUR PROMISES. Nothing builds trust faster than doing what you said you would do, and nothing destroys trust faster than failing to keep your promises. In fact, the Center for Creative Leadership found that the only characteristic that “derailed” executives had in common, that is, executives who did not make it to the top of the corporate ladder, was not keeping their promises.
Think about it. No one ever forgets a promise. You tell your child you’ll take her to the amusement park, and she’ll remind you fifteen times that “you promised.” You tell a colleague that you’ll get back to him, and he sees it as a promise. And it doesn’t work to go back to that colleague and say you forgot or you got busy. In his mind, you broke your promise, and the trust between the two of you was damaged.
And finally, LET THE OTHER PERSON KNOW YOU’RE STICKING WITH HIM. Don’t be like the woman who rushed home from work and exclaimed to her husband, “Pack you bags. I’ve won the lottery!” The husband excitedly asked, “Should I pack clothes for warm or cold weather?” She replied, “Pack em all. You’re leaving!”
What’s needed is the kind of commitment demonstrated by Max Lucado’s parents. He said his parents came to every one of his sixty Little League games. They never missed, even though he only got two hits in all his years of playing. As Max later wrote, and today he is indeed a world-famous, best selling author, “Their commitment was deeper than my performance.” It’s that kind of sticking with someone that builds trust.
Don’t get discouraged, especially if you’re trying to rebuild trust in a relationship. Trust takes time. The building blocks I’ve addressed are “building blocks.” Just as it takes more than one block to build a fortress, it takes more than one action to build trust. It takes a lot of blocks, put down over time, to get the results you want. It works the same way when you’re building trust.
Action: Select a person at home or on the job with whom you want to have a stronger, more trusting relationship. Then take three of the actions outlined in this tip, and do those three things every week for three weeks. At the end of the period, you’ll notice a definite improvement in the relationship.