Trust is the foundation of connection. Developing trust involves discernment. You learn how to tell who is trustworthy and who isn’t by being optimistic, risking vulnerability and experiencing how your friends respond. That first step towards trusting a new friend is a leap of faith. But the risk is worth the reward. When you find a safe relationship, you can share your deepest hopes and fears.
Brene Brown explores the Anatomy of Trust in this illuminating video (click here). Building on her powerful TED talks about vulnerability and shame, Brown explains the components of trust, highlighting behaviors to look for in others and to cultivate in yourself.
Imagine a map of your friend group in terms of trust. There are 5 or 6 concentric circles getting larger in size as you go out. You are in the middle of these circles. In the circle closest to the center, imagine the people you feel closest to, your dearest friends. When you’re struggling, they are right there with you. When you’re triumphant, they celebrate you without envy getting in the way. This circle is small, with a few special people, usually 5 or less, because these friendships require cultivation and time. These friends are your chosen family. From there, fill the remaining circles with people you enjoy but don’t feel as safe with. In the outer circles, imagine your acquaintances and weaker connections.
As you consider your friend circles, is there anyone in your inner circle who hasn’t earned your trust or has violated your faith? If so, tend to this relationship by giving this person feedback or sharing less in the future, bumping them to an outer circle in your friend map. Is there anyone in an outer circle who you’d like to connect with? Take a risk and share something vulnerable with them to see if you can deepen that relationship.
Focus on being trustworthy. Be a safe friend. When people confide in you, listen with an open heart, without judgment. Avoid gossiping. If you’ve violated trust, sincerely apologize and attend to your relationship skills. Earn trust from those you care about most.
By building your understanding of trust in yourself and others, you are developing essential relationship skills that will offer life-changing benefits.