Building Trust, Part 1

How do we build trust?  It’s a common question, both from communities experiencing a lack of trust (which often appears as conflict) and from forming communities wishing to foster trust.  I often tell my client communities that trust (and mis-trust) is built in 1000 small moments and a couple of big ones. Or to say it another way, trust comes through lots of experiences in lots of ways.  For this series of four blog posts, I’ll group them into categories: Everyday Habits, Intentional Practice, Crisis and Conflict. 

Everyday Habits

Brene Brown talks about the little things that build trust and add up over time.  She uses the metaphor of a marble jar. We have a mental marble jar for each person we know and when they do something that shows that they care about us or know us or that we matter to them, we add a marble to their jar. Maybe they share their sandwich with us, or remember the names of our grandkids. They drop off our favorite chocolate bar on a bad day or pick up the keys we just dropped. Each one of these events builds a marble worth of trust and they add up over time.

In cohousing we do these things for each other a lot. We make sure people with diet restrictions have something to eat at a common meal. We check in when someone is missing from a gathering. We save the closest parking place for the person with the sprained ankle. We call someone up and say, “I’m working on a proposal for something I think you care about and may disagree with me on, can we talk?” 

It’s worth noting that these small things aren’t always easy. Most of us have a voice in our head that gives us pause. Does the other person want the attention or help? Will the conversation get combative? What if I get it wrong? 

There is vulnerability in showing up for others, even in small ways.  There is also vulnerability in receiving these small gestures. Mainstream culture says we should be independent and self sufficient. To accept help is to be seen as weak. To need the understanding of others is to be needy. (Oh no!) 

Small as they are, these acts of care and understanding are vulnerable for both giver and receiver, which is precisely the reason they are so effective in building trust.  

Category: Creating Relationships

Tags: community, living in cohousing, relationships

Views: 255

Related Posts Cohousing Blog