Understanding the Anatomy of Trust: How to Build a Better Connection
I want you to think about your most shameful memory you hold and protect. Have you ever told a friend about that memory? How many friends (now) could you tell that story to in its entirety? Why would you choose to tell your truth to that friend? Would you? What elements would you leave out? Why?
What about other incidents of shame that were less traumatic? Do you trust your friends to keep those incidents to themselves? Do you trust your friends with your secrets? Name those friends. Do you have friends you distrust with that information? Why do they deserve the title of friend?
Trust is choosing to make something important to you VULNERABLE to the actions of someone else. Distrust is choosing not to share what is important because it is not safe with that person.
Dr. Brene Brown outlined the autonomy of trust with the acronym B-R-A-V-I-N-G “because when we TRUST we are braving,” she said in her Anatomy of Trust presentation.
Boundaries: I trust you (a) if you are clear and hold to your boundaries and (b) you understand my boundaries and respect them.
Reliability: I can only trust you if you do what you say you are going to do. Be clear on any limitations so you do not disappoint if you can’t deliver.
Accountability: I can only trust you if when you make a mistake you are willing to (a) own it, (b) apologize for it, and (c) make amends. I can only trust you if when I make a mistake I am allowed to (a) own it, (b) apologize for it, and (c) make amends.
Volt: What I share with you, you will hold in confidence. What you share with me, I will hold in confidence. Confidentiality needs to be acknowledged full circle because if you tell me something that IS NOT YOURS TO SHARE, then my trust for you is diminished. Even though you haven’t shared my secret, you have shared someone else’s secret.
Integrity: Choosing courage over comfort. Choosing what’s right over fun. Choosing what’s right over what’s fast. Choosing what’s right over what’s easy. Practicing your values not just professing your values.
Nonjudgement: I can fall apart, ask for help, and be in struggle without being judged by you. You can fall apart, ask for help, and be in struggle without being judged by me.
Generosity: Our relationship is only a trusting relationship if (a) you can assume the most generous assumption of my intentions and behaviors, and (b) I can assume the most generous assumption of your intentions and behaviors.
I think that I found the VOLT most awakening because I have built closeness on enemy intimacy. I have respected my good friends’ stories, but have failed respect other people’s stories that I heard either first or second hand. No one deserves their story spread around like a virus. We need to build trust with each other by respecting ALL stories. Gossip can be addicting, but trust can be everything.
“Trust can be built in the smallest of moments…and there is the opportunity to build trust and there is the opportunity to betray.” – John Gottman, relationship researcher of more than 30 years (cited by Dr. Brown in the Anatomy of Trust)