While awareness is the cornerstone of connecting with people, trustworthiness runs a close second. Whether the relationship is personal or work related, without trust we can’t move further. When we are trustworthy people can rely on us. We can be counted on to do what we say we will do. We follow through on commitments. A relationship founded on trust is characterized by emotional openness and comfort in revealing our weaknesses, fears, and mistakes. If we believe another is trustworthy, we feel safe asking for help and are comfortable giving and receiving feedback. We will give each other the benefit of the doubt when misunderstandings or conflicts arise.

Wake-up Call: Determine Your Level of Trust

There’s an old Arab teaching story that addresses a healthy balance between trust and skepticism that ends with the axiom: “Trust your neighbor, but always tether your camel.” Consider how balanced you are regarding trust. Blind trust is just as damaging to a relationship as doubt, mistrust, and suspicion. The ability to trust depends on past experience, childhood messages, and a variety of factors. Personality plays a major role in trust. For example, Peacemakers, who prefer to avoid offending people or stirring things up, usually trust people without question, sometimes to a fault. They give others the benefit of the doubt and like to see the best in others, even strangers. Guardians, on the other hand, have a “healthy skepticism,” and feel that people need to prove themselves before they deserve to be trusted; they often have a selective inner circle of friends and allies who have passed their test of trustworthiness.

What impact does being either too trusting or too suspicious have on your relationships? What do you need to do to get closer to “Just Enough Trust”—the balanced ideal—where you are open and willing to trust people, but careful enough not to be taken advantage of? What part does your personality strategy play in this style? What childhood messages, personal beliefs, or cultural norms determine how close you are to “Just Enough Trust”?

Coaching Tip: Practice Trustworthiness by Maintaining Standards of

Honesty and Integrity

Being trustworthy means that our words are aligned with our intentions. We maintain a level of transparency that lets others feel secure about who we are and what they can expect from us. Being trustworthy doesn’t mean we will never let others down, but that we will offer and accept apologies and move on without holding a grudge or rehashing mistakes or hurts. It is an attitude and a way of behaving that honors the trust placed in us. To practice trustworthiness in a relationship:

  • Be open and share personal information.
  • Allow yourself to be emotionally vulnerable.
  • Make honest commitments.
  • Be consistently honest, ethical, and moral.
  • Understand the difference between “spinning” yarns and being totally honest.
  • Readily admit your mistakes.
  • Ask for and accept feedback.
  • Confront unethical behavior in yourself and others.