Trust is to human society as water is to life. It is the necessary precursor to every relationship, no matter how minor or fleeting. Trust is something you cannot have or build by yourself; it requires another being to build with, and it requires time. There are no surefire shortcuts to build trust.

On the other hand, trust is easy to destroy. If you begin acting in an untrustworthy manner in your interactions with others so that they no longer know what to expect from you, trust diminishes. There is a constant ebb and flow. If the relationship is ignored, trust decreases. Trust requires action to maintain.

Trust also exists in an organizational setting. If you own a business and you want to contract a service from another business, that takes trust. You write up a contract that says what you will pay and what they will provide. And you know that if they do not fulfill their end of the bargain, you can seek remedy in the courts to enforce the contract.

But what about when trust is assumed, but not present? What if you cannot trust a court to provide legal remedy because the owner of the other business paid a bribe to the judge? What if your best friend tells a secret of yours that you shared in confidence or your spouse begins to act like someone you no longer recognize? Or, as a child, your parents neglect your very basic human needs for safety and security? What if you end up feeling like there is nobody to trust anymore because you’ve had so many experiences of trust being broken?

Add to all that what is happening in our society now. The government officials, elected and appointed, are behaving erratically. Bureaucratic practices are no longer functioning as we have come to expect. Police are behaving as though everyone they see has criminal intent and they have no obligation to offer trust. Even trying to find unbiased, data-based information, typically published by government authorities, is getting harder and facts are murkier over time. There are no entities of authority to trust anymore.

Trust is hard to build and easy to destroy. But if we are to continue with our experiment in democracy, we MUST build trust and work toward expecting it from our authorities. We must expect it from our friends and families as well. We must behave in a trustworthy manner ourselves and offer the opportunity to build trust every chance we get.

Trust = vulnerability + empathy + time (consistency)

If you allow yourself to be vulnerable and you reward others’ vulnerability with empathy, over time, you will have trust. Use your power and energy to build trust in your relationships and you will be rewarded as well.

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