The anatomy of trust

In her research on trust, Professor Brené Brown lists 7 characteristics which, separately and together, shape our trust with others.

Second article in the series

People are social creatures and as such, build circlesof communication. From among the many people with whom we communicate, we need to choose those we can rely on and those we’ddo better to keep at somedistance. Family, friends, and colleagues can makeus repeatedly come to terms with a basic question: Who can I trust? Who can I share a secret with? Who can I depend on for help, and who is most likely to disappoint me?

Professor Brown’s research revealed 7 areas which, taken together, can help us build relationships of trust with others. She put the 7 pointers together as the initials of a term she coined, BRAVING. And it takes some guts and bravery to ask ourselves what we base our trust in others on.What are Brown’s 7 characteristics? Here we present the mas questions we can ask ourselves when considering whether we can trust someone else.

B.R.A.V.I.N.G. Professor Brené Brown’s 7 ways of creating trust.

B (Boundaries):

Does the person I’m facing establish clear boundaries in their relationship with me? Does this person respect my boundaries?

R (Reliability):

Does the person I trust fulfill commitments they’ve agreed onwith me? Does this person disappoint me sometimes? Frequently? Usually?

A (Accountability):

Does the person before me admit to mistakes made in relation to me? Does this person take responsibility for them? Does the person feel accountable enough to compensate me for any mistake?

V (the Vault):

Who can I share secrets with as safely as though they’re in a vault? And what about other people’s secrets? If this person shares them with me, does that mean this person will share mine with others?

I (Integrity):

Can I trust a person who doesn’t display integrity, and worse yet, encourages me to also behave without integrity?

N (Nonjudgmental):

When I need help, who can I turn to without feeling embarrassed, and without fearing I’ll be shamed because I’ve shared my weakness?

G (Generosity):

This trait relates to the other 6 characteristics. People aren’t perfect, and our relationships with each may show some failings in one or another of the characteristics. So the question here is: does the person I’m trusting have sufficient generosity to meet my expectations of trust when it comes to my difficulties? Here’s an example: I forgot to call a friend on his birthday. He could react by being insulted and not forgiving me. But… if he’s guided by generosity, he may be a bit annoyed at first and then would quickly fall back on the knowledge that the relationship as a whole is strong, trusting, and even though I messed up, he’d be understanding.

A series of articles on trust based on Professor Berna Brown’s research:
First article: The marble jar of trust
Second article: The anatomy of trust
Third article: Personal braving for self-trust

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