The Building Blocks of Trust

Building Blocks of Trust

Trust is a common issue brought up in the therapy session between couples. This is a loaded word, because often there is so much involved with that simple word. My family has a secret recipe for “Purple Salad.” It is a tradition to make for family get togethers and it takes days to make. In fact, the longer it sits, the better it tastes. Building trust is much the same. Trust does not happen over-night. It takes time to build trust in a relationship, and there are certain key ingredients that create the recipe of trust.

10 ways to build trust in a relationship

1. Consistency

When building trust, being consistent with your words and behaviors is of utmost importance. Follow through shows that you mean what you say and say what you mean. It leaves little room for the other person to question your intentions. Furthermore, it promotes a sense of loyalty within the relationship.  Being human, we will not be perfect in our intent to do this 100% of the time.  This is why repair is crucial to the following step of trust building.

2. Repair

Take responsibility and admit when you are wrong or have made a mistake. This is the reason that Dr. Gottman found repair to be a key component to successful relationships. The ability to identify your mistakes and humble yourself is a quality that trustworthy people often display.  The ability to make and accept repairs is a key component in building trust.  It tells your partner that you are willing to set your pride aside to admit your mistakes as well as you are able to accept that they will make mistakes as well.

3. Turn toward bids for connection

Dr. Gottman found that successful couples turned toward their partner’s bids 87% of the time. These couples are able to identify when their partner is trying to connect with them and they respond to those bids in accepting and positive ways. Identifying and turning toward your partner builds trust over time. If, however, you are unable to identify your partners bids or if you turn away or against your partner, over time trust will be severed. Get access to our Bids for Connection worksheet and start learning how to identify bids and turn toward your partner successfully.

4. Show interest

Showing interest in your partner is expressing that you care about them. This is the concept of building love maps. As you understand more about your partners inner psychological world, your ability to communicate with one another increases. Further, building love maps and sharing with one another builds trust over time.

5. Sharing appreciation

It is important to build a positive perspective in your relationship. The ability to remain positive and focus on the things you appreciate about your partner will create a positive perspective. Having a positive perspective of your partner allows you to give them the benefit of the doubt and not jump to conclusions or make assumptions. You will be more willing to ask questions for clarification. This questioning is what leads to understanding.

6. Ask questions for clarification

Asking questions to clarify situations or stories that your partner shares with you is how you show genuine interest. It also makes your partner feel validated.  Finding ways to show your partner that they have influence in your life and you care about them is important to building trust.

7. Allowing influence

Taking your partners opinions and ideas into consideration is the key to accepting influence. (link blog) Successful couples work as a team. Both respect differences in opinion and become curious about the others position. This creates trust among the two of you. You will both feel your opinions are valid. A dialogue occurs around understanding as opposed to engaging in persuasion.

8. Help others

When you see a stranger helping someone, what is your general impression of that person?  Typically, we feel drawn to them and that person is seen in a positive light.  Being helpful to those around you shows authentic kindness and genuineness. These are two attributes contributed to trustworthy people.

9. Be honest

Tell the truth, even when it hurts. It can be difficult to be honest, especially if you feel it will hurt the other person or ourselves. Your fear can be a barrier to fostering an open environment and can often cause you to make assumptions about how your partner will respond. Being honest is what helps to promote trust. The ability to be honest in difficult situations when you fear judgment or a negative response, helps to foster trust in a big way. Courage is another quality seen in honest people.

10. Be vulnerable

Trusting someone requires you to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable requires a willingness to take risks. When trust is an issue within the relationship, often couples do not feel that they can share with one another. This inability to share creates a wall between them. Both partners must take small steps in sharing more of themselves, their lives, their insecurities, and their fears. These behaviors build a bridge of trust.  For a partner to do this, they MUST feel safe enough to share which is often the problem with mistrust.

So, how do you foster an environment that will allow each of you to take the risk in being more vulnerable?

  1. Consistency
  2. Repair
  3. Turning toward
  4. Interest
  5. Appreciation
  6. Clarification
  7. Allowing influence
  8. Helping others
  9. Honesty.

Just as trust is something that is built, so too are the concepts of trust. If you are in need of rebuilding trust in your relationship, contact our office or visit our website to get more information on our Couples Therapy Program.