What would you say is the most important element of any relationship? Good communication? Accountability? Honesty? Or are these characteristics and behaviors part of something larger, something much more fundamental? Perhaps, the most important thing, the bedrock that supports the foundation of all relationships, is trust.
Countless scholars, experts and ordinary folks throughout history have touted the importance of building and maintaining trust. Noted educator and author, the late Dr. Stephen R. Covey, often wrote about its importance to relationship building. “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” Covey continues, “When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.” When individuals trust each other, they have empathy for one another, forgive easily, and give each other the benefit of the doubt.
Unfortunately, trust is one of those gifts that can be easily taken for granted. Trust is built over time, when intentions, words and actions align. Yet like a dry forest in the path of a raging wildfire, it can be destroyed in just a moment, damaging relationships, undermining teams, and negatively affecting performance and satisfaction.
So, how can we be sure that our intentions, words and actions are in alignment? We can refer to the “4 Cores of Credibility” outlined by Covey’s son, Stephen M.R. Covey, in the book The speed of trust: The one thing that changes everything:
- Integrity – being open and honest; keeping commitments; and standing for your beliefs
- Intent – examining and refining your motivations; declaring your intent; and choosing win-win solutions
- Capabilities – identifying your strengths and then continuing to develop and leverage those in a spirit of lifelong learning; creating a path of action by setting and working on goals
- Results – taking responsibility for results; expecting to be successful; learning from mistakes
To learn more about OSU Extension’s educational programs focusing on leadership and organizational development, visit go.osu.edu/seekexcellence.
Becky Nesbitt is an Assistant Professor and Extension Educator in Community Development with OSU Extension.