Trust

Trust is the basis for all successful relationships, for that matter. You cannot buy trust, but it’s free. Trust is priceless yet can be earned over time.

Have you ever tried to request someone’s trust? Maybe it was a colleague, customer, friend, or a relative. You may have wanted a decision to be made in your favor.

To overcome some initial disagreement and expedite the decision making process, you might resort to “Just trust me!” That statement is worthless. Either the other party already trusted you based on your past actions or they did not trust you and your request won’t change that. Trust is not spoken, it is demonstrated. Trust cannot be requested, it must be earned.

Trusting Others – Whereas a “defensive climate” seriously impairs the effectiveness of interpersonal communication and generally affects how satisfying a relationship may be, a “trusting climate” has opposite effects. Some degree of trust is an essential ingredient for satisfying relationships to grow and develop.

*defensive climate

The behaviors in defensive climates creates an environment where communication is threatening. Behaviors in supportive climates create spaces where trust can develop. In a defensive climate, gestures intended to be calming and productive are likely to be perceived as strategic and superior.

*trusting climate

Here are some key strategies and tactics for creating a climate of trust. Be the first to trust. When you are willing to trust, people are more open to the idea … Communication is critical in building relationships, based on trust.

What is Trust? A word we all use, trust should be easy to define. We should have a clear idea of what we mean. Yet try for a moment to define what you have in mind when you use the word. It is difficult, isn’t it? What does it feel like to trust and be trusted? When do you behave in a trusting way? How can you tell whether someone is trustworthy? What does one do when one is trustworthy?

All these questions are hard to answer. One of the first researchers to study trust phenomena empirically. Morton Deutsch developed a definition of trust which included these elements: reliance on the communication behavior of another person to achieve a desired but uncertain objective in a risky situation. The following summary come’s from Kim Giffin’s digest of Deutsch’s description of what happens when you trust someone.

1. You predict, expect, or rely on a particular behavior in that person.

2. You take a risk. The expected behavior can lead to positive or to unpleasant consequences for you, and whether the consequences are positive or harmful is uncertain and depends on the other person.

3. You expect to suffer more if the consequences are harmful than you will gain if they are pleasant.

4. You feel reasonably confident that the person’s behavior will result in positive consequences for you.

So if you trust someone, you predict how this person will behave, you are reasonably sure his or her behavior will help and not hurt you, and you stand to lose more if you predict wrong than you would gain if you guess right.

Still another way to define trust in interpersonal relationships is to say that when we trust someone, we believe that person is really the way he or she appears to be.

Developing Trust – Developing trust is a two-fold problem. It involves (1) trusting others and (2) being trusted by others. Having one-side trust is like trying to clap one hand. Both sides are needed in a trust relationship to develop a trusting climate. Development of trust in an interpersonal relationship is facilitated when several elements are present.

One thing needed is our belief in how much the person knows about the topic being discussed, the kind of information held, the ability to make decisions about data, validity of judgment about seeking out new data, reliability to report data accurately and honestly, and the degree to which the person is involved, active, dynamic, or excited about the information known.

Another thing needed is a clear set of behaviors from which to judge. We should not only trust each other if we behave toward each other in a nondefensive, nonevaluative, open, warm, genuine, supportive way, we also must give each other clear signals about what we are doing. We tend to trust those people whose actions can be seen clearly and unambiguously and who behave toward us in a way which poses no threat to our own self-esteem.

In addition, trust is based on a history of our interactions with others and our ability to detect trustworthy behaviors. It is a complicated process of checking present behaviors with our past experiences with similar behaviors. In such checking we tend to rely on nonverbal systems (Gestures, Facial Expressions and Body Movements) more than on verbal systems if there is a conflict. In other words, when the words don’t match the deeds, we tend to put more trust in the deeds. We put more faith in what we see people do to us than we do in what they tell us about themselves and what they are doing.

Morton Deutsch’s classic studies on competition and cooperation made clear to us that many interpersonal situations–such as buyer-seller, husband-wife, driver-pedestrian–cannot survive as rational behavior unless mutual trust exists.

Finally, here’s the nonverbal communication – the sounds of silence (nonverbal systems) as mentioned earlier in which I just have to put a couple of it… Gestures, Facial expressions and body movements.

Gestures – offer another variety of expressions we can use on one another. Gestures were probably one of the first means of communicating human beings developed, long before oral language appeared. All cultures have a system of meaningful gestures which either accompany spoken language or stand alone in conveying a particular message. We nod our heads to say “yes” and shake our heads sideways to say “no.” We extend our hand to shake someone else’s as a greeting and not as a hostile gestures.

Gestures such as tapping our fingers or our foot can communicate impatience, boredom, or nervousness. Our face has innumerable ways of expressing likes and dislikes, approval and disapproval.

We usually accompany our speech with considerable number of hand gestures. If you’ve ever tried to give directions to someone over the telephone, you probably have caught yourself uselessly waving a hand in the air. Some cultures are known to be more expressive with the hands than others. Sometimes certain gestures become automatic. Gestures are often used to give emphasis to our words. Sometimes, if a person’s timing is bad, when the emphasis occurs on the wrong word, we get the impression that he/she may not be sincere.

Facial Expressions and Body Movements – are also part of the communication we exchange with others. We are seldom immobile or expressionless. Our face moves and our body moves, and these movements communicate a great deal about our feelings, emotions, reactions, etc. Some of the time these movements are conscious and intentional, as when we deliberately smile at a friend, frown to express dissatisfaction, or raise an eyebrow to show surprise. Much of the time, however, these movements are so much a part of us they appear unintentional and unconscious. When we attempt to hide a feeling, we often give ourselves away without realizing it, the way we move forward or away from a person, the way we sit–tense, relaxed, on the edge of the chair, slouched, etc. We tend to lean forward when we feel involved and interested, and to lean back when we are not. The way we walk often indicates to others if we feel good, happy, cheerful or sad, gloomy, tired, or dejected. We indicate our perception of status by our postures. We tend to relax around people of equal or lower status and tense up around people whom we perceive as having higher status. We sometimes feel that someone is disrespectful simply because he talks in a more relaxed manner than we think is appropriate.

How we look at a person communicates a great deal. Whether our looks stay on a person too long or too little will also communicate something. In this regard we have unconsciously developed a whole system of the rules that we apply to our interpersonal communication. One of the rules says that when we talk to someone we must look at them, and they must look at us, preferably in the eyes or in the face. We usually feel uncomfortable when our listeners look everywhere in the room but at us. Someone who look out the window, at the ceiling, or concentrate on what is happening in the back room irritate lecturers because he/she violate the rule. We do not like, or trust, people who speak to us without looking at us. Shifty eyes appear to mean insincerity.

Reliability of Nonverbal Messages

Nonverbal messages are usually more reliable than verbal messages. In some interpersonal situations, the content of a message does not fit the affective information about that message. The man says, “I love you,” but somehow his tone of voice and other nonverbal signals he sends deny the very words he just spoke. He says one thing at the content level, but the opposite thing gets communicated nonverbally. What is the woman to believe? The words or the nonverbal signals?

A person assures you he trusts you, but his behavior toward you consistently denies his words. What are you to believe? The words or the behavior?

We know intuitively that words alone are not enough to establish the authenticity of a message. We know this because all of us know how easy it is to lie with words. Nonverbal expressions are thus considered more believable than words. If a verbal message conflicts with what is expressed nonverbally, we thus tend to believe the nonverbal message. We rely essentially on nonverbal cues to get our impressions of how honest other people are in the interpersonal relationships, rather than on what they tell us about themselves.

The people we trust are usually those people whose nonverbal behavior confirms and reinforces the content of their verbal communication. We know they speak their true feelings, and they do as well as they say.

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