Trust: A seven letter word

‘Leading with Trust’, part of Global Women’s Leading through People Webinar Series, unpacks the seven elements of trust as identified in the research of Dr. Brené Brown, and explores the specific behaviours for which to be holding yourself and others to account. This session was facilitated by Global Women Member and certified Dare to Lead™ facilitator, Kaila Colbin.

According to Dr. Brown’s research, trust—an integral component of all thriving relationships and workplaces—can be broken up into seven key elements; boundaries, reliability, accountability, vault (confidentiality), integrity, non-judgement and generosity. These seven elements of trust form the acronym BRAVING, and can be applied in situations where you feel a lack of trust. The model enables us to pin down, with specificity and tangibility, which behaviours are driving this feeling, and provides us with solutions to rebuild, grow and maintain trust.

Building Trust Through Boundaries

Setting and maintaining boundaries is essential to our entire experience of trust. Failing to set boundaries can often set others up for unrealistic, and thus unmet, expectations. At home, this might mean being upfront with your partner about sharing child-care responsibilities to maintain a healthy work-life balance, rather than “burning out” at home or at work. At work, this might mean turning down new projects because you don’t have the capacity, rather than saying yes and not delivering.

Growing Trust through Reliability

Closely related to boundaries, reliability is doing what you say you’re going to do, being clear about what you take on and what you don’t take on, and being able to deliver what you say you’re going to deliver. In general, those who are more likely to set boundaries are also more likely to be reliable, while those who are less likely to set boundaries are less likely to be reliable.

Regaining Trust through Accountability

Owning our mistakes, apologising, making amends, doing what needs to be done to make things right, and ensuring the same mistake is not repeated again—when each aforementioned step is followed in earnest, accountability can make up for every other element in this model.

Maintaining Trust through Confidentiality

Not sharing information that isn’t ours to share, helps maintain trust. On the receiving end, when we enable others to share someone else’s secret with us, we inadvertently enable them to become less trustworthy.

Developing Trust through Integrity

A person with integrity looks the same no matter what angle you examine them: their life, history and actions all paint a coherent and consistent picture. Choosing courage over comfort, doing what’s right over what’s fun, fast or easy, and living our values rather than simply professing them.

Increasing Trust through Non-judgement

Responding to another person’s openness and vulnerability with judgment unavoidably diminishes trust between the two people. Instead, responding without judgement when somebody tells us something that is intimate or personal increases trust.

Keeping Trust through Generosity

When a colleague is late to a meeting, do you automatically assume that they don’t care about or respect you; or do you generously assume that they might genuinely be stuck in traffic? To build and maintain trust, we should strive to be as generous as possible with our assumption and interpretation of others.

At the end of the day, though it’s not necessary to display all these elements at all times with all people, these seven elements of trust enable us to understand the science behind how we can establish high-trust relationships. Understanding this “BRAVING” model of Trust can empower us, and those around us, to hold ourselves and others accountable for the behaviours that lead to higher or lower trust at home or in the workplace.

Watch the full webinar here.