Thursday, October 13, 2011

Can We Build Mutual Trust?

Relationships rise and fall on trust.  John Maxwell evaluates five people principles associated with building trust in relationships.  Question 3 in Maxwell's book  Winning with People: Discover the People Principles that Work for You Every Time, is The Trust Question:  Can We Build Mutual Trust?

The Bedrock Principle
Trust is the foundation of all relationships.   
"Developing trust is like constructing a building.  It takes time, and it must be done one piece at a time.  As in construction, it's much quicker and easier to tear something down than it is to build it up.  But if the foundation is strong, there is a good chance that what is built upon will stand."

Trust is the framework of a relationship.
"A relationship can also be described as being like a painting.  Trust is like the frame that surrounds it--and holds it together.  It provides a context in which to view the work of art.  Trust defines its boundaries. And trust secures it to the wall so that it can be enjoyed.  Trust provides emotional structure."

Earning Trust of Others

  • Trust begins with yourself.  Awareness of your own weaknesses allows for personal growth and honesty with others.
  • Trust cannot be compartmentalized.  A person cannot be trustworthy in one area and not in another.  If a person compromises his or hers values in business, he or she will eventually do the same to family and friends.  How a person treats others is how he will one day treat you.  "An individual's character eventually bleeds into every aspect of his life."
  • Trust works like a bank account.  To grow your investment in others, you must continually do things which build trust.  On occasion, you may make a mistake and lose credit.  However, past deposits will still be earning interest!

Surround yourself with an inner circle of true friends.  To identify these people, ask yourself if they: "love me unconditionally, embrace my vision, embody my values, represent me well to others, look out for my best interests, speak the truth when I need to hear it, support me during the tough times, and defend me to my critics."

The Situation Principle
When a relationship encounters a rough patch, do you focus on the situation or the relationship?  We can't just bail out of a relationship every time we need to work hard or make sacrifices.  This is especially true with our family as we don't get to choose who they are.  We all have friends and family who put more strain on relationships than others.

Ways to help you keep the proper perspective on a situation.

  • Focus on the big picture.  Remind yourself why a person is important to you.
  • Communicate the big picture.  Even amid tough times, let people know that they are loved and important to you.
  • Evaluate whether a problem is a one-time deal or a repeating scenario.  There is a big difference between the two.  Even repeated problems can be solved with a commitment to resolution from all parties.
  • Learn to pick your battles.  Making every little thing a big deal creates a tense, unhealthy atmosphere for you and  those you interact with.
  • Show unconditional love at all times, especially during the storms.  As a parent, spouse, friend, and leader, people need to know you love them in the best and worst of times.

The Bob Principle
"When Bob has a problem with everyone, Bob is usually the problem."  
How to spot a "Bob":

  • A " Bob" carries around problems and spreads his poison to others.
  • A " Bob"  will find a problem in every situation and expose them to others.
  • A " Bob"  always creates problems and tries to involve others.
  • A " Bob"  is usually the ready ear for other people's problems and encourages people to continually dump problems on them.
  • A " Bob" never sees a problem with their own conduct.
"Every problem starter is like a fire lighter.  And each of us is like a person carrying two buckets.  One is filled with water and the other with gasoline.  When we see the spark of a problem fire being lit, we can choose to douse it with water and put it out.  Or we can throw gasoline on it and make it worse.  If we want to control the amount of damage Bob can do, we need to use the water."

How  to deal with a "Bob".

  • When someone tries to be negative, say something positive.  Always try to find the bright side.
  • If a person's motives are being criticized, give them the benefit of the doubt.  Never presume to know the heart of another person.
  • Encourage people to resolve problems with the involved parties instead of bringing them to you.
  • Keep "Bob" away from others to avoid spreading their negativism.

The Approachability Principle
"Approachabiltiy" is a powerful tool to have in your relational toolbox.  How you conduct yourself and what messages you send to others will determine your opportunities for connection and relationship building.  Here are ways to make other people feel comfortable approaching you.

  • Exude personal warmth.  If you genuinely care for and like people, others can tell.
  • Appreciate the differences in people.  Know the strengths and weaknesses of different personality types so that you can respect and work with each kind.
  • Have a consistent mood.  People will feel comfortable approaching you if they know what to expect.  
  • Show sensitivity towards people's feelings.  Adjust how you relate to others based on their moods and feelings.  People are more likely to open up if they feel they are on the same wavelength.
  • Understand human weakness and express your own.  Pretending to be perfect alienates others.  When people can admit their own faults, they can readily accept the faults of others.
  • Forgive easily and always ask for forgiveness quickly.
  • Be authentic.  Be true to yourself and genuine with others.  
Maxwell says to "walk slowly through the crowd"- meaning, when in a group of people, take time to talk, connect, and be sensitive to their feelings, needs, and wants.

The Foxhole Principle
"When preparing for battle, dig a hole big enough for a friend."
A foxhole friend is one who will stick by you through tough times and help you battle through.  It is during these rough times that you find out who your real friends are.  

  • Foxhole friends are rare. 
  • Foxhole friends provide strength, comfort, and confidence before, during, and after battle.
  • Foxhole friends can see your perspective on the situation and show empathy.
  • Foxhole friends forever impact your life.
  • Foxhole friends love unconditionally.

To have foxhole friends says something about who you are, as does being someone else's foxhole friend!

Previous Posts on Winning with People
Winning With People
Are We Prepared For Relationships?
Are We Willing To Focus On Others?

Posts on other Maxwell books:
The Fear Cycle
Quotes From Failing Forward
Ch 9: Get Over Yourself--Everyone Else Has
The Top Ten Ways People Get in Their Own Way