Trust: Are You Building – Or Destroying?

A key concept in many of my keynote presentations is “Trust.” And with coaching clients, trust is always at the root of their challenges and also a big part of the solutions they choose.

Trust is a foundational concept of life and is the most critical and delicate component in any relationship.

In presentations, I describe how we can strengthen a relationship by being consciously aware of the trust level in a relationship, and consistently and persistently behave in a way that increases the level of trust.

Occasionally I get asked, “What about when I am doing things to try build the trust, but the other person perceives the behaviour as depleting the trust?”  Good question.


It was frigid, minus 25 Celsius with a stiff north wind.  Carol came home about 7:00 pm and in her attempt to build trust in our relationship, she plugged in the block heater in my car, knowing that I was going to Edmonton the next morning. She assumed I would bundle up late in the evening to go outside and plug in the car, and at that time, she would have the pleasure of telling me the task was already done.  No need for me to chill out, if you get the drift. The intent was very loving and trust-building.

However, I did not go out that evening because my plan was to plug in the block heater early in the morning.  When I found the job done, I was angry. In my mind, this was a waste of power and money. My righteous justification was that the vehicle only needed to be plugged in for a couple of hours. I perceived this as a depletion of trust.

BS excuses and justifications aside, the issue was a lack of communication.

Alternatives to build trust:

When Carol came home in the evening, she could have asked if I wanted her to plug the car in, and we could have had a discussion and made a choice that we both felt good about. This would have built trust in our relationship.

Or, I could have stopped for a moment, stepped out of my ego, and recognized Carol’s intent.  I could have shown her great appreciation for her act. I could have initiated a dialogue about the mechanical part about how long the car needed to be plugged in and we could have made a choice for the future that we both felt good about. This would have built trust in our relationship.

In our coaching practice, one of the foundational principles is this: every behaviour has a positive intention. Carol’s intention was positive.  Understanding this allows me to be more forgiving of myself and others, and to appreciate others for what they do.  This has the effect of building trust, especially when I show them my appreciation.

Trust is delicate; easy to build yet challenging to re-build. Effective communication about your intention will greatly enhance your ability to build greater trust.

I’m curious. What are you going to do now, to escalate trust-building in your relationships?

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