The Stories that Shape Trust

Angie McLeod April 24, 2019

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how TRUST is built. It’s the cornerstone of every relationship we have – and yet there isn’t a magic bullet that creates it or sustains it. And trust is hard to earn and easy to lose.
Brene Brown, author of Daring Greatly, explains that when trust is built a marble gets put in a jar. When an action or behaviour reduces trust, a marble is taken out of the jar. That leads me to ask:  what actions lead to trust being built—and marbles being added to the jar? What actions decrease trust—and remove marbles from the jar?

Trust is a fragile thing. Past negative or hurtful experiences become “stories” that we carry in our minds, replaying them each time a similar situation arises. These “stories” carry weight: they impact our response to each new person we meet; each new situation we encounter.

If our amygdala (the brain that keeps us safe) perceives a threat based on the past stories preserved in our limbic brain (the centre of our emotional memories), our amygdala triggers our fear centre causing us to proceed cautiously, if at all.

To overcome this primitive amygdala hijack we need to prime ourselves for trust before and during conversations and consciously practice skills that reinforce trust relationships.  Judith E. Glaser, the founder of Conversational Intelligence, states that we prime trust by:

T – Being Transparent.
R – Sharing to build respect and strengthen relationships.
U – Seeking to understand others’ perspectives.
S – Creating a vision of shared success and support.
T – Telling the Truth.

Priming for trust is not a one-time activity; in fact, every relationship is a work in progress all the time.  The more positive the interaction, the more we seek to understand each other, and the greater our sense of “we are in this together” – the foundation of all trust relationships.

Now can you prime for trust in your existing and future relationships? What do you need to do differently?

About Angie McLeod

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