“I just don’t trust you,” said every person ever at some point in their lives. It’s a common topic of conversation within the therapy office, yes, but translates far beyond those walls. All human bonds, whether romantic, parent-child, family, friendship or professional, require a foundation of trust.
I’ve heard it and said it, but the reality of what exactly “trust” is can be a bit overwhelming when you try and explain it. Charles Feltman beautifully defines trust: “Choosing to risk making something you value vulnerable to another person’s actions.”
When talking about trust, it seems that most people can articulate exactly what the paths to destroying it are: Cheating. Lying. Exposing. Taking advantage of. The challenging part is figuring out how to build trust, or what the core components or anatomy of trust look like. Lucky for us, researcher and storyteller extraordinaire, Brenet Brown has nailed this massive five letter word into 7 core components that make the acronym: B.R.A.V.I.N.G.
Boundaries: You respect my boundaries, and when you’re not clear about what’s okay and not okay, you ask. You’re willing to say no.
Reliability: You do what you say you’re going to do, over and over again.
Accountability: You own your mistakes, apologize, and make amends.
Vault: You don’t share information or experiences that are not yours to share. My confidences are kept, and that you’re not sharing with me any information about other people that should be confidential.
Integrity: Choosing courage over comfort. Choosing what’s right over what’s fun, fast, or easy. Choosing to practice your values, not just profess them.
Nonjudgment: I can ask for what I need, and you can ask for what you need. We can talk about how we feel without judgment.
Generosity: You extend the most generous interpretation possible to the intentions, words, and actions of others.
Having the 7 Core Components of Trust allows space and understanding for genuine conversations about trust, and in some situations, what specific areas are lacking. Overall, trust is built through small instances of behavior that add up over time. Brown uses the “marble jar” metaphor to explain this. In our relationships with people, when trusting behaviors occur, the person gets credit, or marbles in the jar, “did you keep my secret, were you there when I needed you?” Trust damaging behaviors take marbles out, “did you not follow through with something you said you would, did you share something personal to me?” The more full the jar, the stronger the bond.
Think about the key relationships in your life and ask yourself, “what gets a marble?” In building self-awareness on trust, you may just be able to better trust yourself!