This is the sixth in a series of blogs on building lasting relationships. Each successive blog covers one specific reason relationships fall apart and how to avoid such an unhappy outcome in your relationships.
Matthew 5:8 tells us: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Not only will the pure in heart see God, they will also stand a better chance of enjoying lasting relationships on earth. Few things are more important to building and maintaining lasting relationships than trust, and few things are more important to earning trust than honesty.
Trust in relationships can be difficult to establish; doing so takes time and effort. Further, once trust is broken it can be difficult and sometimes impossible to re-establish. The fastest way to lose someone’s trust is to be dishonest with them. It’s also a fast way to lose God’s favor. This is why the Ninth Commandment prohibits lying.
“Lying about it hurt me even more than what he did.” “If she had just admitted what she did instead of lying, I could have forgiven her.” I have heard versions of these comments many times from people who have lost their trust in a husband, wife, loved one, or friend. When you trust people, it means you consider them reliable, honest, and protective of your confidences and best interests. Because you trust them, you are willing to reveal your deepest thoughts, secrets, ambitions, desires, feelings, and fears to them. In doing so, you place your emotional security in their hands; you make yourself vulnerable because you trust them.
This is why it is so emotionally devastating when someone you believe in betrays your trust. Whether the person is a spouse, sibling, parent, child, relative, friend, coworker, team mate, or business partner, when someone betrays your trust, the bottom falls out of the relationship. In the aftermath of the broken relationship, you are left wounded and rudderless. People who are betrayed by someone they trust often become jaded skeptics unable to ever trust again. Remember this about trust: it is like money—difficult to earn but easy to lose.
To earn and maintain the trust of someone you care about, someone you have an important relationship with, consistently and intentionally apply the following strategies:
Be honest—tell the truth. In a relationship with someone you care about, it is important to be honest and tell the truth, even when doing so is hard or even hurtful. If the truth is going to hurt, make a special effort to be tactful, but tell the truth nonetheless.
Be willing to admit you are wrong, apologize, and ask for forgiveness. Two of the most important words in a relationship are “mea culpa.” Humility is an important ingredient in lasting relationships. Humbling yourself by admitting to being wrong, apologizing, and asking for forgiveness will go a long way toward building and maintaining trust.
Keep your promises. If you say you are going to do something, do it. Don’t make promises you cannot keep and never make promises you have no intention of keeping. Practice promising small but delivering big. When you promise to do something, give yourself sufficient time to get it done and then try to get it done early.
Share your intimate thoughts only within the relationship. When you share your deepest feelings, thoughts, opinions, desires, and ambitions with someone you are saying, “I trust you enough to make myself vulnerable—you are special to me.” Demonstrating your trust will help the other person in the relationship trust you. Never share the same kind of intimate information outside of the relationship. Doing so is a violation of the trust you are trying to build. It puts people outside the relationship on an equal footing with those inside the relationship.
Never condescend or belittle the thoughts, feelings, or opinions of the other person in the relationship. Doing these things tells the other person in the relationship, “I don’t respect you enough to take you seriously.”
Listen more—talk less. Trust cannot grow when every conversation in a relationship is a one-way broadcast. One of the most important things you can give the other person in a relationship is an ear to hear what they think, feel, and are dealing with in life. Listening intently and sincerely to the other person is an act of love that will build trust.
Dr. Goetsch is the author of Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press and Christians on the Job: Winning at Work Without Compromising Your Faith, Salem Books, an imprint of Regnery Publishing, 2019: www.david-goetsch.com