The Dynamics of Trust
Bill Cottringer

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” ~Ernest Hemingway.

Trust is an essential ingredient to successful resolution of the three main conflicts which we all must deal with in life: (a) us vs. life (b) us vs. them, and (c) us vs. ourselves. In a sense, our lives are a series of these three main conflicts in various forms. Much of the problem of distrust in these conflicts comes from the traditional competitive, win-lose mentality, whereas more trust seems to follow the newer cooperative, win-win approach.

Now here is where it gets a little odd. When it comes to trust, you can’t outthink your brain. While the neurotransmitter chemical oxytocin isn’t quite living up to the hype of being the “magical trust elixir,” the right amount does stimulate the midbrain’s amygdala center to react with an approach or avoidance response to the opportunity or danger of an immediate person or situation.

Of course, there is some very quick unconscious thinking going on in comparing the immediate details of the current situation with similar prior experience stored in memory. This is a very fast intuitive decision-making process whereas you immediately seem to like and trust someone or dislike and distrust them, which proceeds the more deliberate, rational explanation of why this is so, as an after fact.

Below are the overt behaviors that collectedly result in the right amount of oxytocin for trust building:

• Practicing supportive communication by conveying the qualities of equality, acceptance, freedom, tentativeness, spontaneity, and empathy; and avoiding implying their opposites of superiority, judgment, control, certainty, manipulation, and insensitivity, which cause defensiveness and shut down communication.
• Learning, growing, and improving your emotional intelligence factors of self-regulation, self-understanding, social skills, intrinsic motivation, and empathy.
• Keeping the promises, you make and not making ones you can’t keep.
• Avoiding idle gossip with others.
• Holding yourself accountable.
• Being reliable and dependable in delivering results.
• Practicing clear, straight talk that improves understanding.
• Being a good listener.
• Confronting conflicts assertively in exercising your freedoms and rights responsibly.
• Perceiving reality as it is and not as you would prefer it to be.
• Recognizing and praising other’s accomplishments and successes and giving credit when it is due.
• Presenting a likeable personality by being agreeable, honest, relaxed, real, empathetic, humorous, and humble.
• Admitting your mistakes, apologizing when you are wrong, and making things right.
• Appearing transparent with openness, authenticity, and consistency.
• Trusting others until there is a good reason not to.
• Being polite, courteous, and respectful of others.
• Focusing on commonalities and points of agreement, rather than being annoyed about noisy differences.
• Showing genuine concern and compassion with others.
• Being unselfishly altruistic and generous, without conditions attached.
• Managing the outward expression of your inner ego, pride, and hubris.
• Being flexible, adaptable, accommodating, and compromising, according to the demands of the situation.
• Practicing mindfulness in paying closer attention to what is happening right now, rather than mind-wandering about what has happened before or what you think might happen in the future.

“Trust is the easiest thing in the world to lose, and the hardest thing in the world to get back.” ~R. M. Williams.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is retired Executive Vice President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA, but still practices sport Psychology, business success coaching, Photography and Writing, living on the scenic Snoqualmie River and mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, Re-Braining for 2000 (MJR Publishing); The Prosperity Zone (Authorlink Press); You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too (Executive Excellence); The Bow-Wow Secrets (Wisdom Tree); Do What Matters Most and “P” Point Management (Atlantic Book Publishers); Reality Repair (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Publish America); Critical Thinking (Authorsden); Thoughts on Happiness, Pearls of Wisdom: A Dog’s Tale (Covenant Books, Inc.). Coming soon: A Cliché a day will keep the Vet Away and Christian Psychology for Everyday Use (Covenant Books, Inc.). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (206)-914-1863 or