Trust: a Human Process


People like to be heard.

It means a lot for others to hear our voice. It also means a lot to be seen, and also to be understood. Empathy is vital in establishing a team, with caring for others being the centerboard. It is empathy that serves as a firm foundation for building trust.

People respond naturally and favorably to others who take the time to interact genuinely, honestly, humanely — in short, people respond best to people who are “real,” and by real I mean with a strong level of empathy.

Most of us know know it when someone else behaves superficially or treats us in a facile manner. We also do not respond well to patronizing attitudes, or condescending tones. That’s because we’re human and prefer to live by the golden rule, and those who somehow cannot, seem to leave us with a high level of distaste and a reminder of how not to be.

That’s where trust comes in. We earn trust. We are not entitled to it. We earn it through action, interaction, attitude, devotion, patience, and more. We earn it by demonstrating truth and our authentic selves as serving others with humility and respect.

Here’s the thing: trust is fed by empathy.

Marc Lesser, an accomplished executive coach, believes the coaching and mentoring cycle to include the following:

1. Establish trust.

2. Listen

3. Ask probing and open-ended questions.

4. Provide feedback.

5. Partner to create options and practices.

Establishing trust is essential to development. It allows for constructive feedback and healthy exchanges. Listening (active listening) reminds people that their voices are important and we respect them. Probing questions demonstrate that we are respectful of others’ voices and they merit excellent inquiry. Feedback is based on our understanding of information, and when we offer it, we establish a level of respect because we care enough to offer ideas borne from the words we have heard. What’s more is partnering up with the speaker to discuss options to their ideas and practices that will catapult them, a way to take respectful and actionable steps forward.

Remember, treating others by the golden rule leads to better empathy, which fosters the building blocks of a very real trust. In the end it’s what we all hope for, and what drives success in teams and in family.

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