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Nov 3, 2011

Weak Trust

Today we had a seminar at work on The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. We discussed the issue of trust, and I gained some very interesting perspective.
We often consider trust as something earned or that a person must have strong qualities to be trusted. We think that proven accomplishments over time is what establishes trust. However, that is a semantic game. What this describes is not trust, but responsibility and reputation.
Oddly enough, trust is not about being strong; trust is about sharing vulnerabilities. So to earn trust from another person, one must actually be weak rather than strong, open up and share fears or failures, explain trials or difficulties and be genuinely human.
Counter-intuitive as it seems at first, stop and think about it. We all know of someone who goes to painstaking effort to appear strong, to hide his or her weaknesses, and cover up their mistakes. At the end of all that, what opinion do we form? That they are shifty, sneaky, fake – and should not be trusted.
However, when someone shares a story of difficulty where they were hurt and struggled, how they suffered through a trying time or about a lacking skill he or she is trying to improve…what do we think then? Usually, it is along the lines of “Wow…that person is so honest with their own personal life” – and we conclude he or she is someone we can trust.
So, as I have overly stated this past month, I have been through an awful lot. The result of so much of this has become a barrier from trust built up around me. It’s so surprising I would have trust issues out of everything; right?
However, today was huge for me. I don’t want to have trust issues, and I want to move past them. I no longer want to focus on the problems or define what I’ve suffered. I am ready for recovery, and I need to build trust again. So, it was a wonderful revelation to me how trust really works. I feel confident that I can rebuild myself and trust in others not by trying to become “strong” again, but rather by sharing and connecting with others, admitting my wrongs and allowing myself to be vulnerable.
It won’t happen quickly. It won’t happen overnight. But it will happen as I continue to be honest, be loyal and be real.


  1. I think trust is also about consistency. If we experience others (or the world) as consistent, predictable, and safe, we can begin to develop trust. If we don't, it is almost impossible. I think that's why it's so common to struggle with trust after someone's run our hearts through the ringer...because we don't want it to happen again. This isn't our fault - it's how our brains work. Unfortunately, it's easy for that desire to avoid pain to become an avoidant lifestyle that can make it almost impossible for us to be happy. Learning to trust can help us learn to put ourselves out there again. Keep it up, Dj. Keep it up.

  2. Love in all its forms, not just romantic, keeps the door open for trust. It is remembering that we are all basically good in essence that makes it possible for me to try again when either I have not been trustworthy or someone else had not. The other thing I think about with people is that I decided to live in a world with an afterlife, so we are all immortal and going to have to live together for a long time. Living in trust, being open, loving may be the only way to survive immortality. Now that does not mean some individuals are too warped for me to enage with right now, but it does demand that I keep working to make myself a better person for the long run. DJ you have great insight and a strong personality that does not seem content with the status quo - you are a great inspiration.

  3. I like what you say about being open connecting us to people. They relate to us when they know that we aren’t perfect, that we are human, just as they are. I agree that sharing vulnerabilities, mistakes, and perhaps embarrassing situations over which we may have had no control, keeps our lives open and honest. We will have no secrets or skeletons for someone to uncover. At the same time, sharing details about these things is an area where we need to be discreet, and choose safe people to share with. Not everyone needs to know everything. Being open with everyone rather than trying to appear “perfect” (when people know we aren’t, anyway) allows them to share in our lives and connect with us. This is important. But sharing with others does not necessarily mean, however, that they are trustworthy, responsible, or dependable. Openness, which connects us to others, may be a part of trusting, but whether someone is worthy of trust is somewhat different.

  4. Thank you for writing about this subject. It gives me new perspective on a personal issue of my own. It is similar to transparency which I am working on myself. After building walls for so many years - I have recently knocked them all down and now feel extremely naked. Vulnerability isn't comfortable - that's why we tend to avoid it. I'm hoping it is a temporary discomfort and that soon I will feel comfortable just being me - uncovered and happy with the way God made me. Perhaps by learning to be comfortable with my own transparency I will be able to recognize this characteristic with others and learn to trust again. However, I don't see me being trusting of one who can't also be transparent with me.