Trust is such a BIG word. What does trust really mean? And how do we gain trust? To have someone tell us “I do not trust you,” feels awful. And not only that, it does not really tell us very much about why they feel this way.
John Gottman, professor of Psychology, well known for his work with couples, talks about trust being built in the smallest of moments and he gives an example that so beautifully portrays this.
Gottman was in bed reading a very suspenseful novel and would soon find out the ending of this murder mystery. He was savoring the moment and thought he would just go to the bathroom and then jump back into bed to finish the book. He walks by his wife in the bathroom and sees that she looks sad. The first thought that came to his mind was; “Just keep walking, just keep walking.” Gottman calls these moments sliding door moments. There is the opportunity to build trust however there is also the opportunity to betray (walking past and pretending all is fine). Gottman took the brush out of his wife’s hand, started to brush her hair and asked her; “What is going on with you right now babe.” THAT was a moment of building trust.
Brené Brown has looked at what components make up trust and put them together in the acronym BRAVING. Let me explain them to you briefly.
B – Boundaries Being clear about our boundaries and respecting the boundaries of others.
R- Reliability We do what we have said we are going to do, over and over and over again. And it also means that we need to know our limitations, not take on too much so that we cannot deliver on our commitments.
A – Accountability When we make a mistake, we own it, apologize for it and make amends. And we also let others do the same to us.
V - Vault What we share with each other will be held in confidentiality. And not only that, I do not share anything with you about somebody else, that is not mine to share. This is a biggie when it comes to trust. Gossiping about others diminishes trust.
I – Integrity When our actions match our words and when we practice our values rather than professing them.
N - Non-Judgment Being able to ask others for help and share what we feel without judging ourselves and also being able to extend help without judging others for asking for help. Many of us find a lot of value in being the helper, but real trust is not built unless help is reciprocal.
G – Generosity We can extend the most generous interpretation of the intentions, words and behaviors of others. So if you screw up, I will make a generous assumption and check in, without blaming.
This “anatomy of trust” has really helped me understand trust so much more. And it has simplified the way that I talk about trust. What about you? How do you feel about it? Anything that stands out? Found it helpful? As always, I am super curious to hear about your reflections.