Building Trust – Opening Up


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This month’s blog series is all about trust – opening up to others, connecting, being transparent and having integrity. We need to trust others and be trusted – our relationships depend on it for them to be meaningful. In mountaineering, we put our trust in nature, in our equipment, but most importantly we trust one another at every ascent and traverse; our lives depend on it.

Life is filled with moments where trust is gained, lost and repaired. Trust is a little like a pair of reading glasses – life is easier and we see more clearly, and although we can survive without those glasses, it puts a strain on us and makes life harder when we don’t have them.

Let’s take some time to really delve into this important topic and learn a little more about ourselves and how we can improve relationships at work and in our communities through developing trust.

Opening up

There’s a fine balance between being too private or introverted, and sharing too much with anyone who will listen. The middle ground is ideally where we should aim, as it allows us to open up and build new connections comfortably, without being obtrusive. When it comes to our work lives or social lives (including social media) some people divulge far too much about their private matters, their opinions, and even their opinions on other people’s private matters. When sharing is done with good intentions, we can usually still have trust in others. When it’s not, we can quickly lose that trust and never regain it.

Showing vulnerability

When we get to know others and share our stories, we become a little vulnerable, and that’s a good thing. When we show vulnerability, it means we put our trust in that person to not laugh, judge or deceive us, but it doesn’t mean we are weak. In fact, it shows strength of character and emotional intelligence to trust that at this moment in time, we are taking a risk by putting ourselves out there and trusting in someone else. It’s a natural part of starting a relationship to gradually open up to someone and share fragments at a time about our life, thoughts and emotions. When we can open up to our coworkers and learn a little bit about each other, it helps strengthen the overall work experience as well as the goals of the team. When we know that our colleague has a sick parent and a lot on their plate for example, we’ll adjust the workflow and support them however needed. That’s how trust works.

Actions speak louder than words

Building trust happens quite organically, and first impressions can play a big part in setting the stage. We assess what people say, do and even wear as we form our opinions of them, which leads us to decide if we’ll trust them or not. We also pay close attention to others’ body language and non-verbal communication when we are assessing their trustworthiness; we look at the whole package. Just think how a single wink or eye-roll can influence our rapport with someone. We build an environment of caring and trust in the workplace every time we connect with our coworkers, and through everything we do. Our actions speak louder than words; if we don’t deliver by our actions, others will lose trust.

Trust + worthy

As we go through life, we begin to pay more attention to the concept of trust and its benefits.  Knowing that someone ‘has our back’ is almost as good a feeling as knowing that we have theirs. In the workplace specifically, gaining the trust of our peers and management doesn’t just help to foster a more positive, productive work environment, it also puts us on the radar when it comes time for a raise or promotion.

Here are some impactful ways that we can show others that we are trustworthy:

  • Avoid gossip or talking about people behind their back – and don’t support those who do
  • Always keep confidential information private
  • Deliver on promises and commitments both big and small
  • Tell the truth – and take responsibility without making excuses
  • Be true to yourself and others – online and offline
  • Don’t be solely focused on individual gains – share credit and support the team
  • Know your boundaries when interacting with people
  • Know that it’s ok to be vulnerable

Trust is a precious commodity. It’s something we must prove to others that we are worthy of; through our actions we show that we are committed, reliable and that their faith in us is warranted. It takes time to build trust, and only seconds to lose it. When we work on opening up and building trusting relationships, a world of possibilities then opens up for us.

“What happens when people open their hearts? They get better.” ― Haruki Murakami