People have different definitions for trust because it means different things to different people. I hear people say often, ‘I can’t trust him,’ ‘she broke my trust,’ ‘I lost trust in him’ and the usage of trust in those contexts tells you it’s like a commodity that can be broken, lost or withdrawn.
My definition for trust is simple. Trust is that refreshing confidence you have in another’s pattern of character and regularity overtime.
I say this quite often, and it is so true, that as human beings, we trust patterns, not words.
Pattern, according to the dictionary, is a repeated decorative design. Key word to note is repeated. A model that happens in a regular way. A repeated way in which something is done.
If it is not repeated it is not a pattern. If it is not a pattern, it is not trust worthy. It has to be repeated before it can be called pattern. It has to occur again and again, be consistent and regular before it can be trusted.
In all relationships, we trust patterns, not words. I watch you overtime and see what you do repeatedly and that forms the basis of my trust or distrust.
If you are late for our first date by 10 minutes, it will be too harsh to tag you ‘late comer’ But if for the five dates we’ve had you were always late, then I will be right to say you have no respect for time. I don’t have to tell you but that was the pattern you’ve shown.
If during conversations as buddies you related and bragged about how you’ve had sex with every girl you dated on a first date, I will not trust you with my sister. Whatever it takes me, I will ensure you two never hang out alone together. I don’t have to tell you but I know where to draw the line.
If for the past twelve months that we’ve been colleagues at work you always take a break at 2pm, without fail, to pick your kids at school, then I can have enormous confidence in you that you value family and you keep your commitments. Even if I’m not at work, I can tell others confidently where you will be when it’s 2:10pm.
It’s your track record that makes you reliable or not. Your consistency over a period of time is what makes you trustworthy or not.
People want to be in relationship with people they can rely on. They want to date people they can trust. That’s why trust is key for any relationship to succeed. Where trust is lacking there can’t be anything working between the two persons.
Another key word to note is BUILD. Trust is built.
To build is to construct (especially something complex) by joining and assembling parts or materials, according to dictionary.com. It means to mold, form or create. You create things out of other things. You build from other materials. In other words, certain things must be available to build or create from. Trust is built from our day to day choices and decisions. It is built from promises we keep and commitments we honour. If these ‘materials’ are absent, then there’s nothing to build trust from.
Here are 7 ways to build trust. Better put, here are the materials from which trust is built upon.
Every time you communicate or talk you are producing materials from which trust can be built. When you don’t talk they are unable to know what to believe, who to make of you, and what you stand for. It is what you say that provides them the constituents to rely on.
Phone conversations may be okay, chatting may be cool, but nothing compares to face to face conversations where you see each other’s faces and can read every nuance of expressions. Your passion is read boldly, your gesticulations are seen as they add weight to the words you say, by either making you more convincing or more unbelievable. Lots of times these non-verbal words create pictures in their minds whenever you are remembered. They either make you believable or unreliable. Have you ever been told, ‘I don’t believe what you are saying’? It’s because your facial expression was not in sync with what you said.
When there is an incident, not necessary about you or your partner, and you give your opinion, and strongly disapprove of what was done, you communicate your stand. Whether you know or are aware of it or not, your partner picks the message and interprets it in a thousand ways. In the same vein, when there is an incident that needs to be disapproved of and you keep quiet, lock up in neutral about it, you also send a message. Basically, you are always producing materials for trust or not to trust every time, whether you talk or don’t talk.
- Be yourself
It will be catastrophic pretending to be what you are not. Everyone else is taken, be you. Be real enough to say No to what you don’t agree with. Be clear enough in what your values and principles are. And these values will have opportunities to be revealed during conversations, group activities or discussions, events or hang-outs, etc. if you are pretending, time will tell. If you are not pretending, your consistency will be there for all to see.
- Respect boundaries
Boundaries help you define how you will like to be loved and respected. You should not be afraid or shy to set boundaries. Be open enough to share what your ‘deal breakers’ are.
You make a mistake when you disparage a boundary set by the other person. They may consider it funny at the moment and laugh about it but you just goofed and showed you cannot be trusted.
They would like to know that when they told you their curfew was 9pm and you visit two weeks after, you are responsible enough to get up at 8:50pm and don’t need to be reminded. That is how to build to trust. It would mean even more if such behaviour is repeated because it communicates you were not just pretending the first time.
If one of their boundaries, for example, is No premarital sex, you will be damaging trust if you keep pushing them to give in. if every time you try to persuade, cajole, or convince them otherwise, it shows you have a bigger problem than sex. Whether you have your way or not, you have succeeded in creating a major crack in the relationship. And it’s only a matter of time before everything comes crumbling down.
Healthy relationships respect boundaries. Respect their boundaries.
- Be honest
When you lie, you do more than just the lie you told. Your integrity is questioned. Everything you said before then is reconsidered. You make it impossible for them to have confidence in you.
Honesty will prevent you from racking your brain trying to keep record of the things you said or didn’t say.
- Keep your promises
Say what you mean, mean what you say. Be there when you promise to be there. Run the errand if you have committed to run the errand. If you gave your word you won’t engage in a particular habit again, keep your word. If you say you will call, pick up the phone and call. If you say you will send the mail, get to it and send it. If you promised to be there by 8am and for unavoidable reasons you will not be able to, place a phone call and say the most reasonable time you will get there. Keep your commitments. Keep your promises.
These ‘little’ things add up. And don’t think you are under pressure to be perfect, prim and proper. These are the fringe benefits that comes with having another soul in our lives – they build character in us. They make us dependable and accountable. And that is something you take with you even if the relationship goes south.
- Ask Questions
Periodically ask your spouse or partner what things they are most proud of you. Ask them what you do that makes them happy and secured with you.
Listen to their answers and their points of view. Those are the areas you should be more consistent in and improve upon. Get feedbacks and work on the feedbacks you get. There’s no need to be defensive when you are criticised. If they notice you don’t take criticism well, they will not share their views again next time you ask. So, listen when they air their opinions. Let your response, even when you feel pressed to counter, be appreciative and warm. That is how you grow.
- Take responsibility
When you goof, admit it.
When you err, apologize.
And when you fail to meet expectations, take responsibility.
If you think it is tasking to build trust, try rebuilding it after it has been broken!
Keep putting effort into what you have, it yields benefits at the end.
Photo credit: Google images