Trust and be trusted

Trust is an important part of relationships. It allows you to feel secure, depend on others, and take important risks with co-workers, family, and other important people. Whether as a team member or a partner, trust positively impacts commitment. Trust also tends to happen in two directions: You trust others and they trust you. You can’t force trust, but there are some concrete steps you can take to foster trust—to help you feel more trusting of others and to help others trust you more. It’s especially helpful to focus on what’s in your control, that is, on what you can do.

Strategy #1: Put your best foot forward

You can’t control others, but you can control yourself. And what you do often affects what others do. Within reason, act trusting of others, even if you don’t feel that way yet. When you feel trustworthy to them, they in turn may behave in ways that earn your trust. 

Strategy #2: Let go of assumptions

It’s natural to form quick judgments about character or competence. Periodically question the conclusions you’ve drawn about others. Maybe they deserve credit for more? Have they come through for you or others in different ways than exactly what you’re looking for? Have they acted honorably in different situations?

Strategy #3: Admire competence

It’s easy to stay stuck on what someone did wrong in the past, but no one is perfect. Whether big things or little things, try to notice what a person has also done right. Challenge yourself to really pay attention to strengths, not just weaknesses.

Strategy #4: Appreciate good character

Good character can show itself in subtle ways. How does someone act when he or she thinks no one is paying attention? When you see traits such as honesty, courage, loyalty, fairness, and a sense of duty, embrace and appreciate these qualities. 

Strategy #5: Let your guard down

When you don’t trust others, you may act withdrawn or self-protective. Experiment with letting your guard down. While still exercising self-control, you can let yourself be vulnerable by sharing more about yourself, including your true feelings about things.