Who do you trust? This simple question can be tough to answer. Do we ever really know who others are? Do we see and know their "true self?" Do we ever let down our guard to allow others into our world to see our true self? Whether or not you trust others may depend not so much on whether you trust them, but on whether they trust you. But to be trusted, you first have to also learn to trust.
Trust requires mutuality. If others don't perceive you as someone who has integrity and authenticity, then they may not be putting their full trust in you. You may find that they are friendly to you, but stop shy of truly letting you into their inner circle of trusted associates. Thus trust is not only what we give to others, it is something we have to earn. In the act of earning trust we then discover more about other people and to what extent we put trust into them. Throughout life and as we mature as human beings; we learn what it means to trust.
Friendliness and trust are linked, but also very different. In relationships that matter, trust masked as friendliness is fleeting and false, much like receiving an award you do not deserve or did not earn. At face-value all looks grand, but below the surface nothing of value, purpose, or strength exists. Trust relationships are complex; they take time and require conscious collaboration between all parties. True trust is a bond that is much stronger and deeper than the simply act of being friendly. Trust unites, reinforces, engages, motivates, and reciprocates. Trust is a common language, essential to human development and individual success, yet so many people fail to communicate the language of trust well.
The psychology and sociology of trust is fascinating. Too often ego gets in the way of relationships, diminishing the potential and power of trust to be revealed and engaged. Whenever you hear others say (or say yourself), "I don't trust them," ask, "Do they trust you?" The answer is highly consequential to the trust equation.
Most ego-driven people will assume the other party must "of course" trust them. But the reality is that is not often true. Far too often we have an inflated sense of who we are. We do this because the ego requires daily maintenance, and because it is a defense mechanism to protect ourselves from being viewed anything but awesome by our friends, family, and peers.
Trust is established and reinforced with our body: in every reflection of voice, gesturing and posturing of the body, and winks and waves of the eyes and hands. Trust is also established and ebbs and flows across time and space as the parties' relationship matures. Trust requires two or more parties to align with the true self of the other. When people like one another they often mimic each other's gestures and behaviors. This form of mimicry is a way of establishing mutual trust. It is a visual appeal that lets the other party know they are being listened to, and understood. Trust endures time and space when we allow our true self to be exposed to others is reciprocated by the other party also opening themselves up in-kind.
Trust is established, developed, maintained, strengthened, and advanced through the power each of us has to allow our true self to shine. When we can communicate and foster open relationships guided by integrity, character, and mutual understanding, we can learn to trust. And, when we live life with sense of purpose, passion, and integrity -- we allow others to see our true character -- reinforcing the trust others put into us as human beings, and ultimately enabling humanity to endure.