Doing Life Together

family  tug of warTrust is the foundation of any healthy relationship. The key to building trust is to know the other person’s world and reliably respond to it. Do what you say. Keep your promises.

A second component of building trust involves empathy. Empathy helps us see an issue from both sides. Empathy creates a safe haven to work through differences.

When differences are expressed and that expression is negative, stay calm and listen to those feelings. Try not to get defensive, turn away or decide to avoid the person. Stay in it. The person who has the conflict is trying to connect with you.

When you stay in the conflict, trust builds. You learn, I can have issues, but the person will stay in the relationship and work through those issues with me. This is what creates safety and a secure attachment- a willingness to work through differences.

During a conflict, be careful not to turn the conflict into a win-lose argument or debate. American Idol’s Randy Jackson’s sentiment, “He’s in it to win it,” doesn’t fly with conflict. Disagreements aren’t about winning; they are about understanding. We aren’t in conflict to win it. Our aim is to understand the other, consider our part, and take responsibility where necessary. Then, we can come to a resolution or agreement on how to proceed. This is what creates a win-win outcome.

Finally, when trust is broken, repair is needed. Repair begins with forgiveness. In my opinion, people deserve a second chance and a right to win back our trust. We all make mistakes and need a little grace in our lives.

Now, if a person repeatedly shows you that he or she is not trustworthy, then boundaries are needed. Even so, continue to forgive and keep the door open to repair by being clear as to what needs to change in order for trust to be restored.

Yes, it is easier to walk away than do the hard work of repair. But remember, trying to work through conflict helps you develop those skills and brings growth. Walking away does neither. And in order to work through problems, building trust is a key factor.



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