How to Build Trust

These tips are about building bridges between people. For the purposes of this article, I use “friend” to mean anyone with whom we choose to develop trust.

  Honesty and Integrity – With others and with yourself – are two essential building blocks of trust. Be genuine in your words and deeds. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Don’t be one person in public and another in private.

Time – Consider the value of quantity time, as opposed to quality time. Time spent together is valuable, even if you’re doing nothing special. Real-time interaction is best.

Teamwork – Joint activities – household chores, special projects and volunteer efforts, for example – are great for developing cooperation, compromise and unity.

Talk – Talk about the things that matter to your friend and to you. Respect his/her concerns and preferences. 

Listen – Giving respectful attention to the other person’s thoughts and feelings – regardless of your differences – is a powerful expression of acceptance.

Touch – Physical touch strengthens bonding. A well-timed hug, a pat on the shoulder, a gentle caress, can mean so much.

Kindness and Gentleness – A key to establishing a sense of emotional safety, our first non-physical need.

Self-control – It is our responsibility to process stressful emotions and experiences, and to manage our behavior so that others feel safe with us. Control your bad habits, appetites and behavior. Think, before acting or speaking.

Praise – Help your friend build and sustain self-worth by affirming his sincere efforts, whether he succeeds or not.

Recreation – Have fun together. Compete, if you like. But if you must win at all costs, are you trustworthy?

Sharing – Share your knowledge, experience and wisdom. It’s a blessing to them and you.

Tenacity – Never give up. If you drive forward through fear and frustration, you can be trusted with tough tasks.

Gratitude – Essential. A powerful way to show the desire to help the other person feel that (s)he is important to you.

Forgiveness – Holding grudges increases angry feelings on both sides, and damages trust and connection. Anyone who has the habit of holding grudges makes it harder for others to trust him/her.

Empathy – Walk a mile in his shoes, try to see it his way. Don’t we appreciate it when others give us this gift? When you give that gift, others will trust you because they can “feel” that you want to understand them.

Loyalty – You can be trusted when you don’t turn your back on your friend.

Mutual Self Exposure/Vulnerability – Showing your true self with no fear of judgment or rejection sets an example. It encourages others to be open. When you both do that, you feel free to be yourselves. 

Patience – Impatience is a sign of immaturity. An adult who appears immature can’t always be trusted.

Humility – Do you trust someone who is easily offended or who takes things personally? Or do you trust the person who accepts criticism and correction without becoming defensive or angry?

Courage – No one can go it alone. At times, we need to be brave, and we need others to be brave. The person who allows fear to control him/her can’t be trusted.

Ask for advice – Elevate and encourage the person you hurt by honoring him/her with your respect and confidence.

Accept Love – When you are praised or appreciated, accept it with gratitude. Allow others to give to you – this builds bridges.

Respect – Not just respect for others’ feelings, beliefs or their abilities, but especially for their identity.