7 Ingredients to Developing Trustworthy Relationships

In a phenomenal podcast episode, Brene Brown recently discussed “Trust” and I was truly fascinated with her discussion of the subject. In my own reflections of life and business I took aim at where most entrepreneurs (including me) fail at developing relationships with employees, customers, teammates, family- everywhere.

But to give it a more apt discussion, she coined the acronym “BRAVING” to walk through the components. While her talk was not necessarily targeted for business owners, the application is profound. Here are the components she uses to describe how trust is built;

Boundaries. Having a firm start and stop point for what I am willing to entertain in my own life, and what you can expect from me.

Reliability. I can only trust you if you do what you say you will do.  In turn, I will give you the same level of mutual respect.  You can count on me to do what I say that I will.

Accountability. I can only trust you if when I make a mistake you allow me to be accountable for my actions.  And when you make a mistake, I hold you accountable in a way that calls out the action and not the person.

Vault.  What I share with you, you will hold in confidence. What you share with me, I will hold in confidence.

Integrity. Brene defines integrity as courage over comfort, choosing what's right over what's fun, fast, easy, & practicing your values not just professing your values.

Non-Judgment. You can fall apart, I can fall apart without being judged.

Generosity. giving grace and generosity. Assuming that someone means the best.

With these concepts in mind and a more clear view of how I can keep and establish trust with those that need it most from me, the sky is truly the limit. Which of these components resonate the most with you?

How often do you overdraw the emotional bank account?

It’s easy to see when you overdraw your checking out, isn’t it? E-mails, text message, notifications- there are probably a half dozen reminders to let you know you have taken out more cash than you had available.

The good news is that most entrepreneurs are financially sound enough to NOT overdraw in the first place….but if you do, you’ve been savvy enough to put overdraft protection in place to make sure other accounts cover the difference.

But what about your emotional accounts? You don’t have to take my word for it, but they all exist- employees, coworkers, friends, SPOUSES, children- they ALL exist.

The problem is that most entrepreneurs are wired to think analytically, using primarily left brained thought processes, and it isn’t your fault. Our brains have been conditioned over thousands of years and it’s quite difficult to overcome those evolutionary components in one life time. But, school doesn’t help either- it is almost solely designed to make us “good employees” and “hard workers”- neither of which makes a great entrepreneur.

As a matter of fact, this left brained process approach is likely what gives you the competitive edge in the first place. But have you ever considered what it looks like when you overdraw an emotional account?

There certainly are no bells and whistles that go off to subtly remind you that you have asked for more than there was to take. Instead, you receive it in the form of frustration, anger, disappointment and sometimes even tears (especially with children).

Our checking accounts are no different than the emotional accounts for all the people in our lives. If you make daily deposits there will always be enough “currency” available when you need to make a withdrawal.

Don’t know how? Start with discovering the 5 love languages and figure out how the people around you WANT to be filled up- not what YOU want to give

My price for breaking the faith with my daughter

The balance as an entrepreneur and parent can be TOUGH if you let it be. Trust is a hard thing to come by, it is often slowly given and quickly taken away. If I asked any one of my friends or colleagues how quickly they forgive, and how often they forget, the answer is very much the same.

I find in my own business relationships that trust is a little easier to sustain, perhaps largely in part because the boundaries are more clearly drawn and also in large part to the fact that I give so much of my time and energy to my entrepreneurial endeavors. But the hardest trust to keep is that of my children and it is often times because I don’t know how much I am violating it.

I get reminded of it often with statements that start with “Dad, remember that time…”It is almost inevitably followed by something I said I would do and didn’t.

Over the holidays I made a micro-commitment to my daughter that I would help her build a maker space in the garage. She had an idea of what that would entail and certainly what my role would be in creating with her. When she asked if we could work on it together I gave her an enthusiastic “of course”, but with no commitment to actually do so.

The problem was the implied “when I have time for it”. You see in her mind this was a commitment or a promise that I was making to her. In my neglectful mind or an incomplete prioritization I failed to make the time and space to start the project with her.

“Remember that time you said we could create a maker space, and then you didn’t do it?”

Those words cut right through the air and hit me in the chest like a ton of bricks. Not because I didn’t have the best of intentions but because I unintentionally broke the faith with her. In her mind I wasn’t trustworthy enough to follow up on my commitment to her no matter how small that commitment may have been.

So, I’d like to to thank the universe for this little reminder about commitment and trust through the eyes of a child. What’s one commitment you know you need to be accountable to?



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