Sometimes it’s easy to gain more trust and sometimes it’s extremely difficult, depending on the person’s previous experiences of trusting others. Some people will freely give more trust but not if they have ‘been there, done that’ and been betrayed many times. Generally speaking, a small level of trust is freely given as a test and if you want any more, you have to earn it. Some people's experience is such that they find it too threatening to trust anyone with any more than what is necessary to ‘be polite’. For that reason, patience is the first requirement for gaining the trust of anyone, because it may take a long time.
When we receive trust, we receive the power to do great harm to those who trust us and therefore we need to show we deserve their trust. The giving of trust and being worthy of the trust is the link to love; forming a spiritual bond between individuals.
So, patience is the first requirement for gaining trust. Take your time and remind yourself that trust is a gift; not a right.
Use that time to make the other person feel safe with you and from you. Not just from physical harm but from emotional, psychological and spiritual harm. The easiest and most effective way of achieving that is by using manners. Manners help establish trust and a sense of security. Manners form the base for mutual respect, establishing a culture of equality and cooperation. Manners also lead to other useful tools such as the guidelines for resolving conflict, the guidelines for making rules people are likely to keep to, and the restorative action that does away with tools like manipulation, punishment, revenge and power struggles. All that can come from using basic manners.
Gaining trust means being worthy of trust. That means always being reliable – keep your word – be on time – be open and honest – make an effort to know the needs of people and be available to help – and be sincere in saying why you can’t help with some things. Always be willing to offer an apology when you are wrong and take responsibility for your actions.
To sum up, many people might just trust you, so there is no need to win their trust. You only have to be trustworthy and not let them down. However, if you are trying to win back trust, or win it for the first time, you first need to take it slow, especially if the person you want that trust from has been betrayed many times and finds it difficult to trust anybody.
If there is a problem to be worked out, be mindful of maintaining the dignity of other people, or maybe allow them to maintain dignity by ‘saving face’. Clearly identify what you are concerned about and why you need to share the problem with them. If there is a wrong to be righted, do it through restorative action, while being open and honest, especially about anything you did that contributed to causing the problem.
Photo: Norlangie Park, N.T. Australia.