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When building or ‘renovating’ relationships – lay a foundation of trust first

To go from trust to transformation in relationships, we have to approach them like we would if we were building or renovating a house.  We would never add the framework or layer multiple floors on without having a very secure base. In this case, trust is the foundation of transformation, which is key when building or ‘renovating’ relationships at work or in our personal lives.  

A strong foundation needs to be fortified and able to withstand the known and unknown forces at play. If you ask people what trust means to them you will hear varying responses. Examples might include: trust in myself, trust in the system, trust in others, and trust that it will all work out. This is because perceiving and embodying trust is totally subjective. We all have our own interpretation of trust and how it serves us.  And these interpretations are formulated by our own unique experiences.  So how do we transform through trust and build a strong and resilient foundation? We begin with trusting ourselves. 

Turning the focus inward by fortifying our own solid base of trust allows us an opportunity to be vulnerable and honest. But, being vulnerable and allowing ourselves to be honest can be terrifying because it means exposing our true selves and all of our self-perceived faults to others.  However, when we are able to show this vulnerability to others and understand what it takes to work through difficult moments, we are better equipped to understand what it’s like for others to do the same. This process helps us develop empathy, which builds connections, shared experiences and ultimately trust.  

Trust, according to research reported in The Harvard Business Review consists of 3 main elements: positive relationships, good judgment/expertise, and consistency.

Positive Relationships

So let’s look first at fostering a positive relationship of trust with ourselves. This is important because it’s the template for how we view and interact in our external relationships.  For example, if we are more optimistic and engaged, we can more easily partner with colleagues or friends in both the good times and the hard times remembering that we’re all there for the greater good. The trust we nurture in ourselves enables us to trust our own voice, gut feeling…our intuition.  And intuition helps to cultivate emotional intelligence. The most important positive relationship we can have in our lives is with ourselves. When we befriend our inner critic we are more capable of nurturing positive relationships with other people. And, it’s this nurturing that creates trust as a foundation of transformation.

 Trust is about transparency, about learning that it’s safe to let another person know who you are and what you feel, and it’s basically trial and error,” he says. “You pay attention to your instincts about whom to trust, and you try it out.

Joshua Coleman; psychologist 

Good Judgment & Expertise

Next let’s look at judgment. We cannot exhibit good judgment and expertise without first having experiences. These moments shape us and can guide us if we take the time to tease out the learning from each one and acknowledge what it provided. This empowers us to be able to trust our choices next time. This framework continues to build and ladder up as we collect more experiences and make adjustments for the next time we are confronted with something similar…or totally different. Each situation experienced will demand us to trust that we can prevail because our past has proven that it’s possible.


Last of all, let’s consider consistency as it relates to building trust. Trust is strengthened over many occurrences. Although practice may not always end in perfection, it does provide us with data to reflect and build upon. And it’s the practice that bonds and strengthens trust individually and collectively. We will probably falter at times or misstep, but making a consistent effort toward trusting ourselves will pay off as true transformation takes shape through consistent practice and new habits!  You can take this a step further by doing what you say you are going to do.  Your word is your worth, so being true to your word and following through strengthens that foundation of trust. 

Trust…on solid ground

In conclusion, the ability to build or renovate relationships is one of the most important aspects of life, period. But to do so, you must first create a foundation of trust. And, before others will trust you, you have to trust yourself. Allowing space for your own vulnerability and authenticity with others is key. Secondly, learn from your experiences so that they create strength in this area. Third, continue seeking out other opportunities that will stretch your capacity so that you can practice trusting yourself first, and eventually others. And remember, the glue that binds the elements of trust together in a work environment is communication. Using words to describe, share, protect and champion our thoughts and beliefs can help us find things in common with each other. This goes a long way in building a solid foundation of trust that leads to true transformation. 

If you’re ready to see a transformation in your organization, we’ve got your back. Our Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team program is the perfect place to start. Call us for a complimentary discovery session. The path is so much easier when you have a guide!

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