(Part 6 of a Series)
Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.
– Stephen Covey
Learning how to differentiate between kids who were just acting friendly and kids who were actually my friends was one of the toughest obstacles I had to overcome in my younger years. I simply wasn’t always sure who my friends were because I didn’t know exactly who I was yet. Without a clear understanding of the self, making positive and effective decisions about the self is nearly impossible to accomplish. However, after I learned how to trust my own instincts and take ownership of my own actions, I began to attract and gravitate towards people who shared the same beliefs, values and goals that I did. In other words, I figured out how to differentiate between those who were simply complying with social niceties and those who trusted me as much as I trusted them. I learned that choosing to give the right person control can be a courageous and trustworthy act of intelligence in and of itself.
Choosing to trust people is a daily necessity that happens way more often than many of us would like to think. In fact, I often think about how easily and how often I trust unseen strangers with my own life and livelihood. I do it instinctively and habitually everytime I’m driving down the road and another person is driving the opposite direction a few feet to my left. I trust unknown people to make laws that govern my actions and purchases. I trust unknown people who hold my money at banks and other financial institutions. But why is it so difficult to trust someone face-to-face and how can we better manage that process?
Trust starts out with the basics such as introducing oneself to another. I’m a firm believer in eye contact, handshakes and the exchange of basic pleasantries. Conflict can be ignited or avoided in the first few seconds of two people meeting, which is why it’s so important to establish a positive first impression.
I like to use analogies to build the unknown into a known template. It’s an easy way to help someone feel comfortable with the unfamiliar and feel less hesitant about receiving new ideas. Whether I’m teaching a new technique or physically engaging in the use of that technique with a partner, we need to trust one another. Without it, any exchange (physical or otherwise) would be unproductive and potentially destructive to our relationship.
Another way I like to build trust is to be open to someone else’s well-founded opinion. Even if their opinion challenges my own beliefs, the initial clash of perspective will work in both our favors if I allow myself to accept and understand what it is that they are saying and give them the chance to listen and understand what I am saying.
Learning to trust myself allowed me to attract people in my life that I could trust – sometimes even more than myself. It quickly became very clear to me that I am not “going at it alone”. Life is just too complicated and I’m just one person. Creating a team of like-minded people in my life has enabled me to create better habits and make better choices with a little help from my friends.