Trust is the Currency of Relationships

Josh Babcock, April 4th, 2023 | Team Culture

I love getting bothered by random people with questions at coffee shops!  Said no one. Well, today is my day to be that guy. I’m sitting in a coffee shop and turn to the guy next to me. He looks to be about 40.  

Hi sir, I’m doing a study on trust.  Can I ask you a quick question, it will only take a minute.  He rolls his eyes a little and takes out his second AirPod.  "Yeah,  you can."  Cool, I’m Josh. What’s your name? "Paul."  Okay Paul, can you give me the name of one of your closest friends? "Umm, let’s see I have a friend named Tom." Do you trust Tom? "Yes of course, like I said he’s one of my closest friends."  Why do you trust him?  "Uhhh, well because hmmm that’s a good question.  He’s just the type of guy you can trust and I mean I have known him for about 5 years now." What exactly do you mean by the type of guy you can trust?  "Well, he’s a straight shooter,  I know what I’m getting from him.  He’s super consistent but in a unique way."  How did you guys first meet?  "When my wife and I bought our house, we moved to a new town and started going to a new church.  I joined this Men’s group which meets Wednesday mornings over at Panera on Main street and Tom was at that first meeting when I showed up."  How cool is that!  Would you say you trusted him the first time you met him? "No, of course not.  I mean I thought he seemed like a good guy and all.  It’s just, I barely knew the guy at the time."   Okay, so when was the point that you started to trust Tom?  "Umm, I don’t know it just happened I guess.  We both were regular attendees of that group,  we started to learn a little about each other, then our wives met and it was game over I guess. We started going on a few couple dates, oh and then he helped me build my deck one summer, I just trust the guy."

This is the second to last one and feel free not to answer this but was there ever a time when trust took a hit in your relationship?  "Wow man, you're turning up the heat.   Tom is best, I really can’t recall a…well actually.   I’m going to share this because it ends well.  About 2 years ago,  Tom and I were meeting to get lunch.  He never showed up and didn’t respond to my messages while I was there.  So I got lunch by myself.  Turns out he thought it was next week.   Eventually, Tom got my messages and was so sorry.  That night he showed up with a gift card for my wife and I to our favorite restaurant.  On top of that, he wrote a handwritten note apologizing and telling me how much he values our relationship. I kept trying to tell him it was just a misunderstanding and he didn’t have to do any of this but I remember so clearly what he said to me that night.  Paul, even if it was small, I let you down today.  I want you to know I don’t take our friendship lightly.  I didn’t want a small act of missing lunch to lessen our relationship even in the slightest bit."   Wow, Tom seems like a really great friend.   I think that answers everything I was looking for and more Paul.  Can I get you another drink or pastry?  "No, I’m all set, Josh.  I’m going, to be honest, I was not happy when you asked me to do this at first, but my heart is filled with so much gratitude right now, so thank you for that."1

Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unspash

Currency Model

Trust is not built overnight, and depending on your past relationships, can take longer or shorter. Think of trust in a relationship as a coin jar. When you first meet someone the jar is empty. It doesn’t matter the type of relationship. You learn about a person’s name, family, what they do to earn money and add a few coins to that jar. Someone comes through on what they said, a few coins go in. A nice gesture, a few more coins, let your kids sleep over, a whole handful of coins. Shows up late for lunch, a couple coins out. Disrespecting your wife, the jar gets emptied. Obviously, if you keep track of this it would get toxic fast but each act in a relationship is like a transaction of trust.

Here are 6 Ways to Help Grow Your Coin Jars:

  1. Understand the Individual at a Personal Level  - In the simplest form, just ask questions and get to know about the person’s past, present, and future.
  2. Live With Integrity - I like how simple Joyce Meyer describes integrity. “Integrity means that you are the same in public as you are in private.”
  3. Be Vulnerable - At some point, to grow a relationship to a deeper level you are going to have to discuss things you wouldn’t just say to any person.  With that being said, you might as well initiate being vulnerable to start because chances are, the other will follow.
  4. Show Up For the Little Things - Many people show up for the big events because they don’t usually happen a lot.  Be the friend that shows up for the small things.
  5. Keep Commitments -  Let your yes be yes and your no be no.
  6. If There is a Coin Withdrawal, Apologize Sincerely AND Go Above and Beyond to Rebuild that Bridge of Trust - Think of the example above of what Paul’s friend did.

Relationships are everywhere and are usually defined in very similar ways.  Mom, Dad, co-worker, friend, your kid’s basketball team’s parents, your mechanic, the list never ends.   There is one thing that will grow or dwindle your relationship and that is trust. Trust makes you do and say things you never thought you would to that “stranger” you met two years ago.  Trust takes years to build and seconds to lose. Trust is the currency of all relationships.

“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” - Steven Covey