Trust is essential to build healthy relationships. The more you learn to trust yourself, the easier it will be to trust others. If you cannot trust yourself, you cannot trust others. If you cannot trust others, then your relationships will be shallow. Building trust takes time, especially when one or both parties have been hurt in the past. Here are seven practical tips to develop trust in relationships:
1. Become trustworthy in the little things.
If people can trust you with little things, they will eventually trust you with their lives. The best group of people with whom to practice trust is your family. You can start by keeping small promises such as returning a call when agreed to do so. The Bible declares, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” (Luke 16:10-11).
Again, healthy relationships are based on mutual trust. People need to be able to trust you in the little things before they can trust you with the big things. For example, if you promised to take a friend out, be sure to keep the promise. If a person cannot trust you to show up on time or remember to do something that you promised to do, why should they trust you with something more meaningful?
2. Spend time with the other person.
It takes time to build trust. If you want to build trust in any relationship you must spend time with the one you desire to have a relationship with. In this era of text messaging and email it can be easy to spend very little “real” time with the people you love.
3. Share personal information about yourself.
If you want to develop healthy relationships you will have to work at it over time. It is important to spend time with those you want to build a relationship and share your heart with. Believe it or not, they cannot read your mind; you must tell them what is in your heart and allow them to share with you. Healthy relationships need to be reciprocal. If you want to build trust in a relationship you need to become vulnerable yourself. You should not ask your friends for what you are not willing to give.
This is a big deal in any relationship. In counseling, it is an ethical code that must not be violated except in the case of a court order, or in the event the client is at risk to themselves or others. In friendly relationships, keep the other person’s confidence by not sharing confidential conversations with anyone else. What a person tells you in secret must stay in that relationship. Likewise, your information must be kept confidential as well. If someone cannot keep your information confidentially, it may be time to find someone else.
5. Do not be selfish; consider the needs of others. Do things that are in the best interest of other people. Remember, mistrust is often learned in dysfunctional relationships. Trust, however, can only be learned in healthy relationships. If you want to build trust in a relationship, you need to make choices that are beneficial to yourself and the best interest of others. If you consider the needs of others, they are more likely to consider your needs in return.
6. Apologize when you are wrong.
As mortals we all make mistakes. However, we cannot use nature as an excuse to continue making mistakes. We must learn to apologize, admit when we are wrong and ask for forgiveness. If you want to build self-trust and trust in others, you must learn to forgive yourself and others. Nothing shatters trust faster than hurting others and refusing to apologize and change. I urge you to forgive others even when they are wrong. Forgiveness is not about others, it is about your freedom.
Please feel free to laugh at your silliness! Life is too short not to laugh at funny things. Laughter is great medicine for the soul. If you can learn to laugh at yourself and others’ silliness, you can learn to trust.