A Guide to Building Trust in Interpersonal Relationships

A Guide to Building Trust in Interpersonal Relationships

Trust is built over time. When we think about building trust, we might think about building trust with our significant other. But how can we also build trust in adult friendships, at the workplace, or with other family members?

Trust is the foundation of all relationships – whether that relationship is between family or friends. When both sides of each relationship have trust, people are more open and likely to spend more time with each other.

Having trust in someone means you trust that you can go to the other person or you trust that you can rely on them.

A lack of trust might exist because one person is not consistent, or someone has hurt the other in the past.

Whether you are building a new relationship or repairing a relationship with broken trust, you can build trust in the following ways:

  1. Keep agreements and promises. When you keep your promises, you show the other person that they can depend on you! This is a key foundation of trust. If an agreement or promise is broken, there should always be an open line of communication explaining why.
  1. Listen without judgment. Create an environment where the people around you feel heard. Instead of judging someone for what they share with you, try to understand where they are coming from or what they are feeling. Nod to show them you are engaged and present.
  1. Ask what you can do to support them. When someone shares something difficult that they are going through, it’s hard for us to know exactly how to support them. Open the line of communication and ask how you can support the people around you.
  1. Give praise when it’s due. Complimenting others is an incredible way to build trust. Not only does a genuine compliment make the other person feel good, but you’ll also feel good when you see another person smile! When you give genuine praise, you can build trust and appreciation with others. For example:
  • “I appreciate how positive you are.”
  • “Thank you for being so thoughtful.”
  • “That’s such an intelligent way to look at things.”
  1. Be consistent. It’s easy to make excuses or reschedule plans for another day. One of the easiest ways to build trust is to be consistent. Show people that you care about them by being someone who they can consistently count on as a person of their word.
  1. Avoid gossip and negativity. One way to ruin trust is to gossip or talk negatively about others behind their back. People might start to wonder what you will say when their backs are turned. Instead of gossiping about someone, practice being kindly upfront about them instead.
  • Instead of saying “Becky’s partner always talks down to her,” to everyone around, tell Becky, “I notice that your partner speaks down to you, and it makes me concerned.”
  1. Pay attention to your nonverbal communication. A growing amount of research shows that closed body language, such as crossed arms, can turn people away.
    • Simple body language changes, such as making eye contact or opening your body language, can indicate to people that you are open, trustworthy and welcoming.
  1. Share. Be curious about those around you and be willing to open yourself up as well. Trust will naturally build as people feel like they know you better.
  1. Be compassionate. Be compassionate about how others may feel. Check in with how they are feeling. If you are rebuilding trust, apologize sincerely and find a way to come to a resolution together.

Getting closer to others helps fulfill our human desire of feeling connected.

Feeling connected to the people around us strengthens our well-being and rewards us with knowing that we can trust someone else. These exercises to build trust will help you feel connected and fulfilled to the people around you.

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