Building Trust: Your Key To Great Relationships & Collaborations

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Imagine if you were 100 years old and you could share the key to the most important aspect of your learning and experience.

Former Secretary of State, Labor and Treasury, among other work, George P. Schultz, tells us:

"Trust is the coin of the realm. When trust was in the room, whatever room it was ─ the family room, the schoolroom, the locker room, the office room, the government room, or the military room ─ good things happened. When trust was not in the room, good things did not happen. Everything else is details."

Whatever your age in this time of sharp divides, building trust offers one way forward to benefit yourself and others.

You can expand your choices and opportunities for great relationships that support collaboration and success for almost everyone "in the room."

RELATED: 7 Ways To Build Trust In Your Relationship To Increase Friendship & Intimacy

As with any investment of long-term value, building trust involves work, risk, and balanced judgment.

The good news? Many of the choices to trust — how, where, when, and with whom you develop it — are in your hands.

Verify and assess evidence, along with using your critical thinking and intuition.

More good news: Building trust with continuing small actions is also in your wheelhouse and at your discretion.

Investment supports valuable relationships and collaborations in work, friendship, and love — not mutually exclusive!

Other situations where trust can empower and flow relate to community, spiritual, and civic activities.

In action, trust also blunts fears.

As poet Marge Piercy says, "The waters of trust run as deep as the river of fear through the dark caverns in the bone."

Sow the seeds of trust with your everyday behavior and style.

For example, effective communication tends to be direct, decisive, kind, and open. Even more important is attending to others, listening deeply with patience and empathy.

You can imagine quick fixes of a few acts will not work. Since you don't exist in a vacuum, honoring your own needs and preferences and what others want brings natural tensions. To work through them, start with yourself.

Your foundation is based on becoming and being clear about who you are, what you want, and how you relate to people who are important to you.

This process certainly varies with time and circumstances, but not your basic values. Attend to your habits and actions now and integrate previous insights and ideas.

You can choose and adapt the following processes to keep building your foundation for developing trust with continuing small steps.

Here are 5 small-but-powerful tips to build trust. 

1. Be honest.

Be honest with yourself and transparent with others, as appropriate.

2. Identify goals.

Identify a few main, manageable accomplishments you want to work toward for the foreseeable future.

3. Practice effective communication.

Sustain straightforward communication, especially about issues with meaning to you that affect your welfare, progress, and dignity.

4. Aim to be consistent.

Be consistent in important actions and communication, including what you say as well as body language and tone of voice.

5. Keep your word.

Deliver on promises or alert others of your inability to do so in timely ways.

Why take the risk of trusting?

As one of the choices within your control, efforts to be authentic enrich you. As you listen to your true voice in thoughts, emotions, and actions, consistency and predictability will support your comfort and confidence.

Since trust evolves through dynamic, worthwhile relationships and collaborations, benefits and joys will multiply.

The more you give trust, the more you tend to receive it. The greater the reservoir of trust with people you care about, the larger the ripples of benefits outward, as well as inward.

Here are 4 benefits of trust, mostly for you.

1. You have less to remember.

Memory is not taken up as much, since what you said and did are authentic and easily reproducible.

2. Your time is used well. 

Clear and shared priorities support good use of time.

3. Greater comfort and security. 

Fear, anxiety, and other negative emotions are lessened, because psychic safety from trust provides comfort and security.

4. Increased happiness.

Opportunities for pleasure and productive outcomes are stimulated by forthrightness, reflecting your values and needs.

Here are 5 benefits of trust, mostly related to connections with others.

1. Better flow.

Quicker, more natural flow of activities.

2. Better results.

Improved opportunities and outcomes by avoiding dancing around issues from fear of conflict, offending, or rejection.

3. You have more fun.

Increased fun from spontaneous, open sharing.

4. You have better experiences, overall. 

Richer experiences because fuller selves are expressed.

5. Greater collaboration.

Better results from effective collaboration.

RELATED: Why You Have Trust Issues — And 5 Ways You Can Start Putting Your Faith In Others

How trust supports loving relationships.

Pause and reflect: What personal or professional challenge affects the quality of your life now where attention to building trust is valuable?

A real-life example is the actions and spirit of the mid-life marriage of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and lawyer Doug Emhoff.

Evolving over several years, their story reflects how the seeds of trust sprouted, far more directly than many other romances, unfortunately.

Introduced by mutual friends, Doug followed up immediately on their first date with, "I’m too old to play games," and soon used "we" in his conversation.

Given their complex schedules, they committed to working out the logistics to sustain getting to know one another.

Though Doug wanted Kamala to meet his two children from his first marriage fairly quickly, Kamala "slowed things down," as a child of divorce herself.

Yet, she appreciated his enthusiasm. By their third date, they agreed to commit to each other for six months. Continuing to work as a team, Doug remains in her corner and vice versa.

The dangers of trusting.

Whether in public or private life, dangers lurk, historically through the present. They occur from large-scale business to individual situations.

Though the phrase "cooking the books" emerged in 1636, corporate and accounting manipulations continue today.

The chief of the Securities and Exchange Commission, started in the 1930s due to insider trading, self-dealing, and exploitation of investors, was disgusted with similar "shenanigans."

Optimistically and perhaps naively, he vowed to wipe them out.

Today, the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts face continuing scandals from betrayals of trust ─ often sexual.

In both public and private life, people lie, lead on, sabotage work processes and outcomes, hide their true feelings behind polite facades, and camouflage reality.

If such situations are important to you, address them, as possible. Thinking things will work out or blow over without your action often just postpones self-care.

To protect yourself from the dangers that come with naive or uncritical leaps of faith or succumbing to a comfortable routine, what tools and processes do you want to use?

Opportunities to use your insight and skills give you improved power and choice.

Trust your intuition and pay attention to your emotions.

Use critical thinking and hone conflict resolution skills.

Express your hopes and needs openly and appropriately.

In relation to others, you may have some influence.

Be alert to how others’ habitual waste of time, choices, and repetitive interpersonal issues affect you.

Avoid or limit your nonrenewable time with people who are mean-spirited, sneaky, ungenerous, jealous, insecure, or unwilling to face their issues.

Avoid repetition of past mistakes in trusting others — perhaps, write a short personal alert list for protection in the future.

You’re already likely to have useful experience with creating and sustaining trust and collaborations as well as making some mistakes ─ a good source for learning.

Enjoy and use what experience has taught you.

What types of connections with people will you limit or avoid? Why and how?

How will you change any story you tell yourself that tends to dilute or limit your capacity for trust and collaboration?

What situations and individuals allow you to be true to yourself and bloom?

How will you encourage relationships that tend to be safe and stimulating for you?

Describe two or three skills and abilities you want to practice to protect yourself and continue your good habits.

Whenever you can and will, design your life around your responses to everything above and other promising ones you add.

As you trust your intuition and common sense and take modest steps to honor them, your insights and smarts will support the good life you want.

What better reason for creating and sustaining trust with others who are worthy of your trust?

Together, you can create and use the priceless power of building trust to sustain valuable, great relationships, and collaborations.

RELATED: How To Build Trust In & Strengthen Your Relationship

Ruth Schimel Ph.D. is a career and life management consultant and author of the Choose Courage series on Amazon. Obtain the bonus first chapter of the upcoming, Happiness and Joy in Work: Preparing for Your Future. Use your invitation to a free consultation as well on her website.