In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey wrote, “Trust is the highest form of human motivation.” Trust influences our communication, creativity, and cooperation at home, at work, and in the world. What we learn about trust as children impacts how we trust in our future relationships – in friendships, with colleagues, and in romantic relationships – and sways how intimate we are willing to be with others. How do we develop trust, and what can we do when trust is lost?
In working with students and young people in The Peaceful Project, we talk about trust – what happens when we trust someone, how it feels when we don’t, what is below the lack of trust, and how trust can connect and comfort us. We talk about showing up as trustworthy and what that means. The Leadership Trust from Your Infinite Life Training & Coaching Company is a simple yet profound exercise that demonstrates the core concepts of building trust. It is an agreement that every person in the group makes with one another – teachers and students alike.
Each person commits to respecting the other person and their opinions; to listening to the other person; to not using anything that person shares against them; to not talking about the other person behind their back; to coming to that person if there is an issue between them; and to directing someone talking about the other person to them. The results of this commitment are profound. Students say they feel more secure coming to school and that they feel supported. It is like a big exhale happens for everyone in the group. Trust changes everything in the classroom.
Notice that the students were committing to showing up as trustworthy. They were not saying, “I trust you.” They were saying that others could count on them to uphold the agreement. The key to developing trust in relationships is to show up as trustworthy.
In thinking back on trust while growing up, I remembered my mother telling me that our neighbor had said, “You would never know that she [me] was adopted because they [my older brother and I] look so much alike.” She had been watching us through her kitchen window. This news did not feel as good to me as my mom thought it would! First, I felt uncomfortable to have unknowingly been watched and then talked about. Secondly, I felt hurt that my mother had shared with her that they had adopted me. That was not a secret. It was simply my business to share or not share. The intent of the adults was not malicious. It was a neighbor’s observation. It reflected how open my mom was in treasuring how I came into our family. Yet, it created a lack of trust because they were talking about me behind my back.
The Leadership Trust is terrific for families. It, again, is so simple and yet so powerful. Trust changes everything at home.
When we commit to being trustworthy, trust becomes solid within us. We commit to operate from trusting ourselves. Gini Gentry, author of Dreaming Down Heaven, said, “You can put trust back where it belongs and trust yourself.” Trust is an inside job. Knowing that you can trust yourself to handle what comes up – the lovely, the unexpected, the good, and the bad – is the key, especially when trust feels lost.
Trust changes everything when you commit to…
· Respecting others and their opinions;
· Listening to others;
· Not using anything another person says against them;
· Not talking about someone behind their back;
· Going directly to a person to handle an issue between you;
· Guiding others who are talking about someone behind their back to that person so that they may directly handle it together.