"Do I trust him or her?" Others may ask many questions about you, but this is a key one. Trust lies at the root of building good interpersonal relations. Research into human relations proves that if trust is present, weaknesses tend to be overlooked and mistakes tolerated. Some people are trusted, and some are not, it depends on how they behave. Trust is grounded in four very concrete and specific behaviors: Acceptance, Integrity, Openness, Reliability. The presence of these four behaviors lead others to say: "I trust him or her". If you put these four behaviors into practice, you'll be trusted. If you don't, you won't. Simple as that. Let's look at each of the four in turn, to get the whole picture.
First, trust requires acceptance. If I sense you accept me as a person, I'll trust you. That means I must sense that you feel it's OK for me to be me, you don't pass judgment on me, you don't put me down and you don't treat me as an "it" by trying to manipulate me, treat me as an inferior or by just criticizing me. You accept me as an individual with my thoughts, feelings, interests, differences and my imperfections. You don't have to agree with me but you do have to accept me. If I sense you don't accept me, I won't trust you, because I'll wonder if you are trying to use me, or deal with me only as a means to your ends. If you behave in an accepting manner by taking me as I am, treating me as a worthwhile person, showing respect for my personhood and not judging me, then your behavior will lead me toward trusting you. Acceptance is necessary to earn trust.
Second, trust requires integrity. If I sense you are being straight-forward with me, I'll trust you. That means I must see you as being honest with me. I must perceive that you mean what you say and say what you mean, that's having integrity. If I sense that you are telling me one thing and feeling the opposite, trust goes down. If I don't see and feel your integrity, I won't trust you, because I'll be in doubt about what you really mean, feeling that I can't count on you to tell me the truth. If you behave in a honest way, saying what you mean and meaning what you say, then your behavior will lead me toward trusting you. Integrity is necessary to earn trust.
Third, trust requires openness. If I sense you are being open with me, I'll trust you. That means I must feel that you are letting me in on what you know about the matter at hand, at least the essentials. I must perceive that you are willing to let me know what affects me, that's being open. If I sense that you are keeping important things to yourself or that you have a hidden agenda, trust goes down and you become less believable to me. If you behave in an open way, share information with me and tell me what you have in mind, then your behavior will lead me toward trusting you. Openness is necessary to earn trust.
Fourth, trust requires reliability. If I sense you are dependable, I'll trust you. That means you do what you say you'll do. If you make a promise, you'll keep it; if you say you'll take care of something, you'll take care of it; and if you say you'll be somewhere, you'll be there. I must have the experience that you take your agreements seriously, you are a person of your word, that's being reliable. If I see you making promises you don't keep, if you say you won't do a certain thing, and then you do it, trust goes down. If you behave in a reliable way and if I can bank on your dependability, then your behavior will lead me toward trusting you. Reliability is necessary to earn trust.
Trust is the cornerstone for building on-going, lasting relationships. Trust is earned, it's not a gift. Others don't trust you just because you tell them you can be trusted. You earn trust by your behavior, and that takes time, because others must experience these behaviors in you. You earn it if you behave with acceptance, integrity, openness, reliability.