Recently my wife and I took our 5 year old grandson (Riley) for a holiday in Fiji, and yes, we left his parents behind. We had great fun, learnt lots of lessons and I have come back to work for a rest! In trying to make sense out of that experience, it seems to me that it could only work if there was one thing, TRUST! But what is trust? Author John Maxwell says: “Trust implies accountability, predictability and reliability” and without it last week would have been a nightmare for Riley, for us AND his parents! We had proved by our past history that we could be counted on to handle the ups and downs of life with a 5 year old, enough to predict that we could survive a week and could be relied upon to bring him back in one piece, enriched by the experience. Yet that did not mean we gave him everything he wanted!
That is life! In fact, we all need to trust, and to be trusted to live healthy balanced lives. This week gave me a new appreciation of trust, which applies not just to families but to the workplace as well. All too often it seems like we live in a culture of distrust, even in the military! But it doesn’t HAVE to be that way. Here are 5 things you can give to build trust:
1. Time! We are all time poor, it is a precious commodity, but if we want to build trust we need to be prepared to give it freely. It is about being there, really listening, engaged in the conversation and not just physically present. That is hard (especially with a 5 year old who talks continuously), even costly (like a week away from work) but it is worth it. When was the last time you gave time to your partner, child or workmate and really listened?
2. Respect! Sadly, it seems we live in a society that undervalues respect and all too often fails to show it or teach it to our children. To show respect is to recognise other people’s rights before I demand my own. To be respectful often demands a growing level of self discipline, because if we don’t respect ourselves we will not respect others. How do you show respect for your elders or superiors or subordinates?
3. Unconditional love! We all need to know that we are loved, for who we are not just for what we do. None of us are perfect, we all make mistakes and are not yet competent in certain areas, and at those times it is important to express that unconditional love clearly. That might be as concrete as forgiving a child when they have vomited all over you! Who do you find hardest to love and what are you going to do about it?
4. Show feelings! In many families and workplaces it is expected that you wear a mask and portray the right image. What would it cost you to take off the mask and show the real you, and share how you really feel? So much of the superficiality of our culture is designed to insulate us from others, which only helps to build mistrust. Go against the flow, open up and show your vulnerability. Who do you need to open up to?
5. Touch! This is another one of those areas that because of a few, who had poor boundaries, we have legislated against all touch. However, to really connect with people we NEED to touch. No amount of talking about touch on social media can compensate for the real thing. Yes, it must be done in appropriate ways, whether that is a warm handshake, a pat on the back or a high five, we all need to take the risk of giving some physical encouragement. What are you going to do to encourage somebody who needs it?
If you have TRUST issues, do something about it today.
Padre Ian Whitley AM