Small steps to trust

I often hear the word trust and I know instinctively that it’s important. And yet I don’t feel I’ve spent much time unpacking what it really means. Would I trust you to make me a cup of tea? Of course! Would I trust that you would jump in front of me to protect me from immediate danger? Perhaps not. That seems a more unlikely response for you to make. 

So what do we mean by trust? What use is it and how do we build it? I am increasingly turning to Chat GPT for initial answers when I think of questions like this. It doesn’t provide a pitch perfect response, but it usually gives a starting point and good food for thought. In this instance, it came up with lots of great answers, thanks GPT, you’ve just saved me some time. With no apologies, this is not my own work (sorry if that has broken a sense of trust between us?). 

Here are a few key points picked out from GPT that I particularly like about WHY trust is important: 

  • In environments where trust is prevalent, individuals feel comfortable sharing new ideas, exploring innovative solutions, and challenging the status quo, leading to greater creativity and innovation.  
  • When employees trust their leaders and colleagues, they feel empowered to take initiative, make decisions, and contribute their best efforts, which ultimately boosts productivity.  
  • People are more likely to remain loyal and dedicated when they trust each other’s intentions and capabilities.  
  • Trust creates a sense of safety and predictability. When people trust each other, they experience lower levels of stress and anxiety because they feel confident in their relationships and interactions. 

And HOW to build trust? Again, I’ve picked out a few choice phrases from Chat GPT: 

  • Invest time and effort in building positive relationships with others.  
  • Be transparent about your intentions, thoughts, and feelings, and encourage others to do the same. Listen actively and empathetically to understand the perspectives of others. 
  • Consistently follow through on your commitments and promises. 
  • Act in a consistent manner over time. Avoid sudden changes or inconsistencies that may erode trust. 
  • Demonstrate that you can be trusted to respect confidentiality, privacy, and personal boundaries. 
  • Be willing to admit when you’ve made a mistake or acted inappropriately. 
  • Be genuine and authentic in your interactions with others. Authenticity fosters trust because it shows that you’re being true to yourself and honest in your dealings with others. 

Well, there you go, a machine is helping me to think about how to be a good human. I’m not sure what to make of that.  

I’m left wondering what this would look like if teams and services for families were built upon these ideas. It’s quite a challenge, isn’t it? Did something in either list particularly stand out to you? Either because that’s something you really value, or perhaps, sadly, because that has been the opposite of your own experience. 

Trust begins with small steps – and if we all make a small step, imagine how far we could get… What small step could you do today that would help foster trust between you and a colleague, a young person or a family?  

P.S. I was only joking when I said I would trust you to make me a cup of tea. I have my tea very weak, and I rarely convince people to make it weak enough, so sorry I’ll keep making it myself.

– Cate Newnes-Smith

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