On a cool summer morning, a person I’d never met before dropped by for coffee. Introduced by a friend (virtually), she followed up to meet me in person. I liked her instantly, and we connected easily. Part of my trust in her came from my friend’s introduction. Because he trusts her, I trust her. But my experience in meeting her increased my trust.
I tend to trust people easily, quickly, and deeply, sometimes with difficult consequences. But time is a powerful force in deepening trust.
Here are five assurances I look for when choosing to trust someone without hesitation.
I trust you because I know you. Knowing someone helps set the stage for trust. If I have a sense of knowing someone, including their likes, interests, habits, and ways of interacting, I can choose to trust them. Time helps that, too. I trust my friend to take my daughters camping for days at a time because she first kept them for a few hours, then overnight, and because they are happy and have fun when they’re with her. Knowing someone includes knowing how they behave over time.
I trust you because we have a history together. Some of my most comfortable relationships are the longest-term, which makes sense. Not long ago, some friends visited. We’ve known them more than twenty years. Though we haven’t spent time together much in recent years, I trust them completely, without hesitation, because I know them to be trustworthy, over time. I work with their daughter and working together is natural because of our history. I knew I could trust her to be a reliable worker even before I hired her. How? I’ve watched her mature, seen her grow in confidence and maturity. Our shared history compounds our trust.
I trust you because I’ve seen you show up. When you do what you say you will do, consistently over time, my trust in you is built. Consistency fuels trust. Inconsistency degrades trust.
I trust you because I’ve seen how you respond under pressure — and I see how you support me when I’m under pressure. Isn’t it wonderful when someone sees you in a tough situation and holds space for you to be yourself? A friend and collaborator once picked me up from the airport and drove me to a client engagement. In the process, we drove on curvy roads, and I became carsick. He stopped the car, and I stood in the dark California woods and vomited. It’s a vulnerable and potentially shame-producing situation to be in, but my friend patiently endured. Other colleagues have cried with me, or given emotional support in challenging work moments. And while people supporting me in bad times certainly engenders trust, those moments when people let me into their pain and heartache builds trust, too, because I can trust you more fully when you trust me.
I trust you because I choose to believe in the best in you. Sometimes trust jumps boundaries and is fueled by hope and belief. I can trust you despite your flaws when I choose to focus on your strengths and potential instead of on your missteps. I trust what’s good and honorable in you, and that trust can be a powerful force to inspire you to become your best and increase your trustworthiness. Trusting someone this way can be risky. When you betray my trust, the pain is profound. When I trust you and you let me down, I feel foolish and question my own judgment and trustworthiness.
But it’s worth it. Why? When I choose to trust what’s good in you, I create the opportunity for rich relationship and joy.
Trust built over time and experience with people is comfortable and deep, while trust formed quickly may be tentative, and with reservations. My commitment is to trust whenever possible, and to be trustworthy, so other can trust me deeply and without hesitation, even when we first meet.