Trust — the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of someone or something.

Synonyms: confidence, belief, faith, certainty, assurance, conviction, credence, reliance

"Good relationships are built on trust."

What does it mean to trust someone? Truly? Not just to say “I trust you” but the why behind it?

I asked myself this question recently when I was in Ohio for the Arnold a month or so ago. I met some phenomenal people recently and was left contemplative as to how I had come upon such good friends.

It wasn't always this way. For the first few years of my career, I didn’t have a network of support, and while I had had great colleagues at times, my own selfishness and lack of appreciation had left me “alone” and on my own back in 2012. What had changed since then? A lot, but fundamentally, I lived life differently in two predominant ways:

  • I stopped taking people for granted and I appreciated them fully.
  • When I trusted people, I kept on proving it to them.

Trust, I’ve found, isn't a single marker in time. Much like the misconception that surrounds passion (which I wrote about in a previous article), trust isn't something that can be earned “once” and then exists into perpetuity.


I Trust You Because?

“Trust is earned.” That’s a common saying that most people would generally agree with. What earns trust though? This isn't so mysterious a question. A simple dictionary definition is telling enough:

Value — the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth or usefulness of something.

"Your trust is of great value."

So begging the question of why we trust people, it's simply because we value them. And why do we value people then? Fundamentally, they can do something for us.

While this may by connotation be interpreted as being selfish, it isn't. People who bring value into our lives in some fashion, be it work, relationships, positivity or learning, we will value. It's highly uncommon to meet someone who’s self-destructive and think, “What a great person. I definitely need someone to help wreck my life.”

We desire good people because they make our lives better in endless capacities, and there isn't anything “selfish” in wanting such people within our sphere of existence. Showing your worth then, to use the colloquial term, is the start of building trust with someone and vice versa, especially in regards to business. Our worth is determinant upon our value and what we can initially offer to someone. Value by itself though isn't enough.

Trust Equals Value?

If you demonstrated value to another person, you must keep on proving it. This is where a lack of trust happens often enough. If you want someone to trust you, most would agree that it must be earned in some way. While we often can show value and perhaps gain some degree of trust in the beginning of a relationship, this can't be the only time we show it. We must continuously deliver on the value that we have initially shown over and over again. Only by this constant process do we truly earn faith with someone and that faith is what grounds the value.


Trust and value then are closely tied together, and as we demonstrate one, we in turn strengthen the other. The value that we hold with people must be continuously reaffirmed for them to continue to trust us. This is what creates the “faith” that goes into a powerful relationship.

In such a way, trust is a two-way relationship then, a positive feedback loop from one person to another. I value you; you value me. I trust you; you trust me. I have faith in you; you have faith in me.

With this in mind, what ultimately seals our trust with people or leads to it breaking?

To My Friends with Gratitude

There was one defining principle not yet defined and that is gratitude. This isn't so heavy an action. There is a reason that “thank you” is such a powerful statement. It's an acknowledgement that a person's value and/or action has meaning to us.

Without ever saying this, this is where people are taken for granted. When someone doesn’t fully recognize the value someone brings, that person over time loses trust in you. You may “trust” them to be valuable, but they won't trust you fully if no gratitude is ever given.

There are many ways to break trust, far more than would be worth attempting to list. Fundamentally though, beyond being betrayed, let down and disappointed, there’s an underlying root of why broken trust hurts us so intensely. Because it's a loss of faith, and regardless of how tough we are, having our faith broken, either by ourselves or someone else, is an intense feeling. It's guilt, rage and disbelief all in one.

I can't offer any true insight into repairing broken faith. Some things can be restored and some things can't. From an aspect of insight though, I can say that the most powerful “relationship builder” that can be put into action is gratitude. Somehow in some way, expressing thanks and appreciation for value and faith will do more to build a lasting relationship than anything else. And to circle back to the people in my life who have taught me this the past few years, clients and friends alike, thank you for everything and for trusting me. I'm always grateful.

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