Has anyone ever asked you to trust them?
It’s an empty request. Either you’ve earned someone’s trust or you haven’t. And if someone asks you to trust them, there’s probably a reason you shouldn’t.
Trust is a Quality You Earn
You build trust over time, by being trustworthy. Literally ‘worthy of trust.’
You create it by doing what you say you’re going to do; by behaving consistently and in a way that fits into a coherent framework.
You also build trust with small, consistent gestures.
- By noticing and commenting on someone’s good work.
- By being kind.
- By greeting people in a friendly way.
- And by talking through problems when they arise.
Collectively, those behaviors create a network of trust — an energy field — that under-girds a healthy community. When you are trustworthy and if you are fortunate to be part of a trusting community, life flows more smoothly.
But that fabric of trust, built over months and years can be unraveled quickly.
A Breach of Trust Erodes Community
I wonder what would happen if at St Mary’s Park where I exercise someone brandished a gun.
Would the gentle network of trust that has been built over years through small gestures and cheerful greetings be strong enough to unify the park-goers against a threatening intruder?
Or, would the trust that has been built over years vanish in a flash and be replaced by fear and self-protection?
Trust is the glue of social interaction. When trust is broken, whether in a family or a community or a country, we no longer function at our best.
But when trust is strong — when people feel that they are part of a constructive, functioning and trustworthy community — they may be able to withstand disruptions and attack.
How Do You Build Trust in Your Community?
Identify three things you do that build trust among your friends and colleagues. And what are some behaviors that erode trust? What can you do to be more trust-worthy? And what would the consequences be?
What role does trust play in your life and your community? Please share your beliefs about trust in the comments below.