‘Trust’, is like the heart in your body, if it stops pumping blood, there will be no life left in you. Similarly, a relationship without trust is lifeless. While, there are some relationships where there is no choice like a sibling, parent-child, colleague; I personally believe in all other, relationships like that of friendship, spouses, employee/employers where you do have the option to let go; if there is no trust there is no point, staying in them. As distrust causes, uncertainty, the urge to check and re-check what the other person is saying and still be left with a lingering feeling of doubt. This in turn increases the cortisol in your blood, putting your body under stress, which of course has its own list of ill effects on your mental and physical health.
As someone once rightly, said ‘I trust you’ is a better compliment than ‘I love you’. Trust, is earned based on certain qualities that a person displays, it’s a conscious decision and longer lasting once developed. Whereas, ‘love’ is a feeling, which doesn’t necessarily stem from logic. In romantic love for instance, once the honey-moon period passes and we are forced to take off our rose-tinted glasses; if factors like trust and the qualities that go with it, are missing from the equation the ‘happily ever after’ can pretty much turn into ‘the end’.
Hence, trust is an essential ingredient; it is the salt in your food, the sugar in the dessert. It is what sincere relationships are made of. The following are some of the features critical to cultivating trust or the 5 C’s of Trust, as I like to call them:
A person, who does not follow through with commitments, cannot be relied on. Honoring commitments and observing punctuality in their fulfillment, lays the foundation of trust. If you do not show up on time on dates, meetings, appointments etc. you demonstrate a disrespect of the other’s time. If you don’t stay true to your words, fail to keep promises, never follow up or make up for lagging, you are sending out a loud and clear message, ‘Do not trust me, I will never make an effort to meet your expectations.’
It is natural that when we are faced with some problem, we seek out our smarter friends over the simpler ones, no matter how well-meaning the latter may be. We believe the more intelligent ones will help us come up with a good solution, keeping every aspect in mind, sometimes maybe better than ourselves. We choose competent people to be our ‘leaders’, because we trust them to do the right thing, at the right time. Sean Covey in his book ‘The 6 Most Important Decisions You’ll Ever Make”, gives an example, where if you are faced with a heart problem and you need a surgery, you are presented with two choices, one is Dr. Good and the other is Dr. Able. Now, Dr. Good although a nice and caring doctor has never performed heart surgery, while Dr. Able with a reputation of being dishonest performs surgeries even when not needed. Which of the two options are you likely to go with? Chances are neither. As you, would only trust a doctor with your surgery, if he is both Able and Good. So, while Competence is just one leg, it cannot balance the body unless the other leg, Character is present.
Ability without character is of no relevance, when it comes to establishing trust. Character, comprises of honesty, sincerity, respect, integrity, owning up when at fault and not judging others. As it is natural you cannot, trust someone who is dishonest and insincere, in that they are not interested in your good, at heart but have some ulterior motive in forming a bond with you. Sometimes, a person may be well intentioned but their lack of respect towards us makes us overlook their advice, for let’s be honest, when we are belittled we become less receptive to what the other person might be saying. Another, quality that defines character is integrity or the presence of strong moral values and principles. A person who holds their ground and sticks to certain beliefs and remains upright no matter what, is likely to earn our trust. When we see them vehemently upholding their values, we feel a sense of comfort and start believing, that they would support our cause equally when we are wronged.We can trust them, because we know they will safeguard our secrets, as they have big stomachs. It is against their morality to broadcast intimate details of someone else’s life, that have been confided in them.
People like this tend to remain neutral, instead of passing abrupt judgments before reaching a conclusion. They are tolerant of the mistakes others make, as they realize that they too err, ever so often and are accepting of the fact, that they do.
Sometimes, you can have the right values and the skill to help people out but you just don’t care enough to do so. People pick up on the lack of intent and avoid bothering such people with their issues. A person with competence and character but no kindness comes across as stern or harsh. And no one likes to open up to harsh people. You need a sense of warmth from the other person, the feeling that they will understand and feel your pain; to be able to share with them, your feelings. If we are not heard or shown sympathy, we perceive a barrier that keeps us from discussing our worries. For trust to evolve, compassion is key, otherwise we never feel relaxed enough. Compassionate souls don’t just listen to us, but give us the courage to move on, when we feel overwhelmed. Compassion is the truest form of love and one of the pillars of trust.
This is the one thing that maintains trust. You can have all of the above, but if you are not regular with your behavior, your trustworthiness will be undermined. To be a good parent, friend or spouse, it is crucial that you always be available and be consistent in being available. Being unavailable sometimes is understandable as we all have our lives to live, as long as we make up for our unavailability at a later time. Even though you may initially gain someone’s trust, but it will all come crumbling down, if you are mostly not there for them, when they need you.