How to build trusting relationships

As humans, we all need to belong.

And creating trusting relationships will allow us to create places where all feel safe, valued and able to fully be ourselves.

What it is trust? And why are trusting relationships so important?

I have learned so much about trust recently over the past four years running my business Kataholos. I want to share as much of this information with you as I can here, in the hope that it can help you as much as possible.

We hear a lot about trust in life. From our early school days learning about it through friendships, into our young and then adult relationships. And in the business world, especially during covid times, we hear a lot about the importance and necessity of trust between individuals, groups and nations.

I talk with – and listen to – a lot of different people, from all over the world these days; and when there is no trust, these have been some of their experiences:

• I just didn’t feel safe
• That should never have happened
• I don’t believe a word they say
• How can I trust them now?
• They have ruined it
• I don’t know them well enough
• I don’t think they are sincere
• I think it’s time we parted ways…

Have a look at that list. Would you want the people that you care about to be saying that about you and your business? No way. Let’s see how we can stop you getting into a conversation where someone could be saying that about you.

So, how can you do this?

Well, I am a big believer in lifelong learning. And one of the best aspects of that is it keeps me constantly open to anything and anyone in our world. This can then provide so many opportunities to for me to learn and develop. And so, here are 4 areas where I have recently learned about the importance of trust- some more expected than others!

My business: having high trusting relationships with clients and associates has become one of the most important aspects of my business. It is right up there with value and cash flow. I have learned this just by listening to my clients telling me how important it is to them.

My family: I have young nephews and nieces, and over the past few years, after being there at every birthday and special occasion, we have built very strong trusting relationships. And as a result, we have had some amazing, funny, touching, moving, unique family occasions!

My dog: I will one day write an entire blog on our Kataholos mascot Cotchi, our brown labrador dog. He trusts us to feed him, take care of him and love him. And when he is not well, because he cannot talk, he comes to us in his vulnerability and trusts us to take care of him.

Love island: I’ve always found reality tv shows to be fascinating from a psychological point of view. As well as the small vicarious thrill of imagining myself being one of the participants, I just find it really interesting seeing how people present themselves – though I try not to watch too much of it now.And Love island, for all of its faults, taught me the phrase, “Back yourself!”- meaning to believe and trust in yourself and your abilities. After all, if you don’t trust yourself, why should someone else?

These are just some of mine. How about you? Are your professional and personal relationships teaching you about trust? What could they be helping you to learn? Are you open to trusting and believing in yourself? This can be one of the biggest blockers in getting people to trust you, and it is definitely important to heal and resolve.

If you find it hard to trust yourself at the moment, and you do not currently appreciate just your how wonderful you are, have a look at this blog to help you:

So, now we have looked a bit at why low trust is something to avoid, and considered what you could currently be learning about trust in your life, let’s explore some of the benefits that high trusting relationships can bring you and your business.

The benefits of high trusting relationships

Here are some of the benefits you can enjoy once you have high trusting relationships with your important people. I have also included the wording from certain clients of mine below-have a look at the words that people choose to say – they are very important to pick up on:

• You will not need to sell anything to your clients
• You will feel both confident and relaxed
• You will have more fun
• You will feel able to voice your opinion freely
• You will be seen as an authority and highly credible
• You can hold people to account regarding their actions
• You will be given new opportunities
• You will be well thought of
• I feel safe with you
• I feel like I know you so well already
• I felt I could reach out to you
• We trust your judgement
• No problem, let’s do it!

Aren’t these wonderful? And you are most probably on the way to enjoying these already. Most people are, but they don’t realise just how well they are doing in building trust with their people. This may be because it is not always talked about that often, depending on where you work in your sector, and even company to company.

Here are 4 other important things that I have learned to help you to manage expectations regarding how long it takes to build trust and what you can expect from people.

Two I have learned from networking, the other from a world class leader, and lastly from my father and Irish culture.

Paradoxically, if you are building trust properly, it can be challenging work, but easy in its spirit, as you know you are doing the right thing for the other person.

1. The trust curve

Imagine a rocket taking off the ground. It takes so much energy to just clear the floor, and then too as it takes off into the sky, but once it reaches a certain height…it’s just easy. That’s one way to help us to conceptualise the effort it takes, at the start, to build trust. Another is to imagine going up a curve in a graph, through a series of steps. And again, one you reach a certain point, you have built sufficient trust, and will not need to start again from zero each time.

2. Trusting fast and slow

A brilliant piece of advice that I got from a friend, when I was quite new to networking, was this: “Mike, some people trust fast, and some people trust slow.” It’s so true! There is nothing worse than being someone who trusts quickly and putting lots of effort in with someone, who may just naturally take a while to trust; you may think you are doing something wrong. You are not. You just interpret how long it should take to build and give your trust differently. Consider for each context – business, family etc – if you trust slow or fast. And manage your expectations of the other person by knowing what their trust speed is too. And the simplest way to find out is just to ask them and tell them why you are doing so.

3. Stephen Covey’s Emotional Bank Account

This is a fantastic metaphor, which I learned from world class leader and businessman Stephen Covey. I highly recommend that you invest in reading or listening to his book The 7 habits of highly effective people.

The Emotional Bank Account invites you to imagine that you have a bank account with each person you know. When you do good things with and for them, it’s like making a deposit in a bank account and building up money. And if you do bad things, that person will see it as making a withdrawal from the account and you will lose trust.

I love this. It is so simple and explains why so many of us hate being sold to, as soon as we meet someone. As using this metaphor, we can clearly see that without possessing a strong relationship first, the other person is asking us to make a withdrawal of our time, money, attention or something else, without having made enough deposits first.

4. Failte rabat – welcome friend

My father taught me this beautiful Irish concept. The phrase means welcome friend, and it’s all about how we build trust through making the other person feel safe and welcome.

Imagine I am in a safe space on one side, and you are in your safe space on the other. I do not expect you to come to me. And equally I will not come all the way over to you. But I am willing to leave my safe space, if you will do the same. And we can come together in the middle and build a new place that is safe for us both.

I can think of no more beautiful way to define the action of building trust with another.

So now we have gained a bit more of an understanding of the benefits of having high trusting relationships, what can you do to help you to build them with your important people?

Six ways to help build trusting relationships

1. Make it a priority and important in your business and in your life

I thought that I valued trust highly already, but the more I have focused on it, the more I have seen how essential it is. Just like there is more to your business than making money, the same is true with trust. The time will pass anyway this year, so why not keep building trust alongside it? Then you can look back and know that your time has been invested well. A high trusting relationship with someone else is one of the greatest jewels in life.

If you’d like some help in making building trust an important priority in your business and in your life, I highly recommend that you read or listen to this book:

Trust-based selling by Charles H Green.

2. Ask – will this help build trust?

Whenever you are about to take action or make a decision, ask yourself,

“Will this help build trust – in you? In your business? In your brand? With your people? With your products?” If the answers is yes, then do it. If the answer is no, then don’t do it!

Some common yes actions might include:

• Being honest always
• Being on time or early if possible
• Adding value without wanting a return
• Showing kindness
• Considering the other person first
• Being flexible to help accommodate their needs

And some common no actions might include:

• Being late
• Ghosting people – please don’t do this
• Not listening properly – we can all be guilty of this
• Focusing on your needs first in every interaction
• Being unsympathetic to people’s current situations

3. Always do the right thing for the other person

Your role in building trust with another is to always do the right thing by them. So you always need to be honest. If your product or service is not right for them, tell them. If someone else would be better, connect them and make it happen. It’s all about helping the other person. Just imagine, how grateful would you feel if all the people you knew were just trying to do the right thing for you? You can make this real by being this person for someone else.

4. Listen and affirm people – always

When someone important to you is talking, listen. Really listen. Pay attention to how they express feelings, concerns, the intonation of their voice, their body language. Their facial expressions. Make notes. Listen with a view towards helping, not taking action. When they have finished, allow a pause. Give them some space to see that you are doing your best to make them feel welcome, as failte rabat has taught us.

5. Show them that you care – remember the little things

You can really have some fun with this.
Try to remember as much as you can about people who are important to you:

• Their likes and dislikes
• Their health
• Their family
• Their goals and dreams
• How their business is going
• Their little quirks
• Their favourite things

Whenever you remember something about someone and make reference to them, what you are really saying is:
“I see you, and I care about you, I care about you enough to remember all these things about you. You are important to me”.
Wouldn’t you want to trust someone who makes that level of effort for you?

6. Allow time – you cannot force it. Your efforts come from you, they will accept them in their own time

This can be difficult. Trust takes time to build. If it didn’t and was given right away, it would be meaningless. This can be challenging, as it requires us to be patient and respectful of the other person and how slowly or quickly that they may trust. But just remember, if you do it right and think long term, you will only have to get the rocket off the ground once. Then floating in space will be a lot easier and more fun for both involved!

When trust is broken and the risk you take

Everything in life involves risk. So yes, you may trust some people and it doesn’t work out. That is certainly going to happen. But I think being accepting of this, takes a lot of the shock out of it for us. People may try to hurt us and not be worthy of our trust, that it a fact.

But it does not, in any way, subtract from the precious few with whom we enjoy wonderful, high trusting relationships.

It is not for those who do the wrong thing to have a say in how we should live our lives. They should have no power over us, because we will not give it to them. If someone has hurt you and is not worthy of your trust, then it is their loss and they are worse off without you. You retain your dignity, you trust in your own self-respect and your openness to trust again. This cannot be taken from you.

Your best people will always aim to do right by you and for you.

A life without trust is not one that is worthy of you.

How to apply this in your business and your life today –  just pick one thing

We have looked at a lot here about trust, so to keep it simple, just pick one thing that speaks to you most and apply it.

Here are 3 closing principles to keep in mind, to make sure that whatever trusting actions you take, that they are successful for all.

1 Trust in yourself and your business – back yourself, remain open to trusting and keep it at the top of your important list

2 Pick one of the 6 suggested actions and do it every day for a month – then write down your reflections and results at the end of the month

3 Begin to use the word trust in your everyday language – do not be scared to use the word trust and the phrase “I trust you”, in your daily talk with your people. Encourage them to do the same.

Final thoughts


If your business is all about people and about relationships, then trust is for you.

Trust is the safe space – where we can grow

Trust is the enabler – to open life up to us

Trust is the way – to a place where all belong


Love and best wishes

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