a : assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something
b : one in which confidence is placed
Trust is a very peculiar thing. It is one of the most personal and prized things that we own. We treasure it, hold it so close, build walls to protect it, work every day to earn it, sometimes give it away blindly without question, and we want everyone to give it to us. Everybody wants it, not everyone deserves it, some think they are entitled to it, and some steal it. Yet, in a blink of an eye, we can lose it or have it ripped away and it is the one thing that you may never get back.
There are multiple levels of trust, like blind trust, where we grant it to someone based on faith because we are told from society that this is someone that we are supposed to give trust too. A doctor, a nurse, a teacher, a preacher, a councellor, a phyciatrist, and even a bus driver are just a few examples. These are people that are supposed to have our best interests in mind and very rarely do they have to earn the trust that we give.
There is trust that we give away based on a friends suggestion. Our friends might tell us that someone they know or have been aquinted with is trustworthy and therefore we will trust them because our friends said so. A mechanic, a house painter, a babysitter, an insurance agent, a financial planner, all come to mind as someone that we will trust based on a recommendation from someone we know.
The hardest trust to lose, however, is the trust that has been earned. This is by far the trust that we hold closest to our hearts and that we are most careful with. When we give away this particular type of trust, we are opening our lives up to someone that means something to us. These are special people that receive trust because we are saying that ‘I believe in you and here is something that is very important to me.’ If this type of trust is broken, it is the hardest to recover from.
When we meet someone for the first time and we decide that we want to get to know that person more, we start to qualify them into stages of trust. This is where the ‘earned trust’ scenarios start to play out. We will immediately put a person through each stage until we decide that this person is worthy of our most special gift. The following are 6 Stages of Earned Trust that we go through and qualify others through.
Stage 1 “Nice to Meet You”
You never get a second chance to make a first impression
You never get a second chance to make a first impression
This can be a make it or break it stage for when we meet people for the first time. This stage can last only 20 seconds and every one of us will go through this stage, yet every one of us will have different qualifications in order to move to stage 2.
When you drive past that hitchhiker on the road, do you immediately think whether you would trust that person to sit beside you in your car? Now most of us are brought up to think that we should never trust hitchhikers and we’ve all seen some nasty hitchhiker horror shows, but it’s human nature to want to judge them based on that first impression.
How about when your teenage daughter or son brings home a new friend? We want to protect our kids so we try to decide if their new friend is trustworthy enough to be in our children’s lives. The kid with the purple mohawk that’s hanging all over your daughter the first time you meet him isn’t likely to bypass stage 1 is he?
Stage 1 can also be lost in the conversation too. Looks aren’t everything and not everyone judges a book by it’s cover, but the critical first conversation can block a person from ever getting to stage 2. If the first words you here from your date is ‘ Sorry I’m late, I had a parole hearing’, stage 2 trust is not likely in the future.
This is where you decide you want to know some more information on someone and you will allow them to get some info on you. If they beat the odds and qualified your stage 1, then you will start to test them with some questions to find out a little more about them. Generally, basics are asked like what do you do? where are you from? how long you lived there? what do you like to do? It’s the total interview process where we all turn into Donald Trump and get to fire people or keep them around for a while.
Getting past this stage can be fairly easy if you start with honesty. Honesty always attracts trust and that will move everyone along to the next stage. Stage 2 can start and end very quickly for some people while others may take a while before deciding to move ahead.
The second interview process takes place here. Were you worthy to be seen or heard from again? That means that someone has said ‘I like you enough to talk to you again.’ The door has been opened for you and you are free to step in and prove that you belong here. Trust has started to be earned from you and by the other person.
You are also qualifying the person as well. Do you trust this person enough to want to know more than just the basics? Think of this stage as the background check diving into more history about family, friends, and common interests. The odd story or two may come out, but careful not to scare anyone way as the little trust that’s out there can be quickly revoked.
You’ve made it through the preliminary’s and now it’s time for building a strong foundation. Brick by brick, day by day, trust is built. You have decided that someone new in your life is allowed to know more about you. A new friendship is built in stage 4 and it is in this stage where inquisitiveness is transformed more to common likes and goals.
Longer conversations, more frequent meetings or dates, and a general happiness comes out when a new friendship is built. Both people look forward to seeing or hearing from each other and with every conversation, a little more trust is gained. Days turn to weeks and months in this stage before moving on.
I trust you enough to introduce you to other friends. This is a powerful stage because after going through your own qualifications to allow someone to gain your trust, you now put them through the ‘friend test’ and get reassurance or disapproval from the ones that you have previously given your trust too.
A scary stage that anyone goes through when starting a relationship, the ‘friend test’ is the ultimate do or die stage. If your friends approve, it means that you have been on the right path and it allows you to trust your own judgement. A disapproval from your peers could be extremely hard to hear. A lot of people will even question a disapproval because no one wants to think that they made a mistake in giving your newly formed friend your trust so far.
It’s hard to hear someone tell you what you don’t want to hear and denial is one of the first things that we do. We may even turn and pull back some trust from our close friend who we confided in. It’s important to re-evaluate your situation if you didn’t get the approval that you wanted for your new friend. Remember who you gave your trust to first and who has more of your trust. Balance that against how much you trust your own judgement. Stage 5 can take weeks or months to get through so patience is the key.
After passing the ‘friends test’, the new relationship continues to grow and now trust has been given out more and more easily. Secrets that only a few know are shared with each other, strong bonds are formed, and you stop thinking about whether or not this person can be trusted. This is the stage where you find that there is no reason for you not to trust your new partner if you believe they have been honest with you all along. The sky is the limit on how far a relationship can go once this stage of trust has happened.
Make sure you take your time getting through the stages of earning trust and giving your trust away. We have all been betrayed by someone at some point in our lives and our trust has been abused. Don’t worry about previous hardships that you had from others in the past. It happens to everyone. The new person that you are seeing, has been betrayed before as well. Believe that there are good people and that you deserve to be happy. As soon as you embrace this, you can move forward in a relationship. Once you trust your own self that you are meant to be happy, it will not matter how many times your trust in others has been broken.
“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” -Maria Robinson-