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Growing the Trust Relationship

Growing the Trust Relationship

Growing trust


The relationship begins when you demonstrate over a period of time that you’re trustworthy. The length of time it takes will depend on you and any others who are involved, and the degree of responsibility that that trust entails. 


By its very nature, however, the idea of growth suggests that it will be long-term. 


A good illustration can be found in the plants and trees that are all around us. While some seeds germinate very quickly, time is still required for shoots to form, flowers to appear, and fruit to ripen. It doesn’t happen overnight. 


So what can you do to grow the trust relationship? 


1. Sow 


As any gardener will tell you, not all seeds germinate; and of those that do, not all flower. That can be for a lot of reasons: faulty seed, improper planting, or negligence on the part of the gardener. 


The same thing is true when you grow any relationship. Some of what you do will make a difference, while other things won’t matter at all; and much of it may seem counterintuitive. What you think matters won’t; and what seems to be of no consequence will be hugely significant. 


Just like sowing seed, you can’t know for sure which will yield fruit and which won’t. You literally can’t cherry-pick what to sow and what not to. In fact, it’s more than likely that all that you do will make a contribution – that the whole will be greater than the sum of the parts. 


2. Water 


Apart from plants that are bred for dry climates, all of them need water pretty much on a daily basis. Some need more than others, but most will begin to wilt in the absence of any. The average large-flowering clematis, for example, will drink a gallon every day, whereas the Saguaro cactus, made popular by American westerns, survives on less than an inch every month and almost none during June. 


What does this teach us about growing a trusted relationship? Simply this, that each one is different and that most require a daily dose of the very thing on which that trust was built in the first place. Little things, such as cheerfully doing what you’re asked to do, doing them completely, to the best of your ability, and not leaving anything to chance are good examples. 


3. Feed 


Plants are fed periodically: some at the beginning of the growing season and then mid-way through it; others monthly; a few weekly. 


You can feed a trusted relationship by anticipating what is needed before it arises. Here’s a simple, but appropriate example.  


Let’s say that your boss likes coffee. In fact, he or she drinks quite a lot of it; maybe has a hot cup on his or her desk all the time. If you know this to be the case, then offer to make one – often; not just when you do so for yourself, but just for that person. You can make a joke out of it if you wish. Laughing together solidifies relationships. That’s because when you share your vulnerabilities with others and are liked, rather than ridiculed, trust is enhanced. 


You can also look for opportunities to do other things, but not seek to get the credit for them. You could do the washing up from time to time, for example. You don’t need to tell the person you’re advising that you’re doing it. Just get on with it. Word will probably find its way back, and even if it doesn’t, who cares? You’re not doing it for the praise; instead you’re doing it because you care. And whether it does or not, it’s worth remembering something that Harry S Truman once said – that it’s amazing how much can be done if no one is concerned about who gets the credit. 

4. Weed 

Weeds compete with plants for sunlight, water, and nutrients. When you remove them, you give your plants the best chance to flower and fruit that you can. 


In a trusted relationship, you weed by striving to remove obstacles that can get in the way of making it grow.  


For example, the lack of contact time could slow its development. If you hardly ever see the person you’re supposed to advise, then it would be easy for you to be forgotten. That doesn’t mean that you hover, but it does mean that you spend enough time around that person so that he or she becomes accustomed to seeing you. Just make sure that you have a good reason to be there. Something meaningful to contribute ought to do the trick. You want your presence to always be associated with something positive. 


5. Dig 


Some gardeners will enrich their soil by growing a plant for the purpose, and then digging it back into the soil. You can do the same thing to grow your relationship as a trusted advisor. 


In order to do that, you must invest yourself into the success of that person. Twenty years ago, this was easier to do. People had jobs for life. They could be reasonably confident that if they did this, it would help them, perhaps through promotions or a salary increase. 


Today, that’s no longer the case. With short to medium contracts, employees tend to obtain their promotions by switching companies rather than staying with their current oneEven so, in order for the relationship as a trusted advisor to grow, you still must invest in that person’s success, because if you don’t then

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