Trust-Building Behavior #8 – Say What is so
In this section, we will discuss telling the truth about (1) the kinds of things we don’t want to see and therefore ignore; and (2) the kinds of things we often don’t tell the truth about.
1. Things we Ignore
In this behavior, I am advising you to “take your head out of the sand.” Look around right now and notice where you are denying reality. We all do it from time to time. The first step is to see where you are doing it. This is a change in consciousness (i.e., what you choose to observe) and so it can be challenging at first. My tip is to simply be open to finding where you may be denying the truth. Put up a post-it note that poses this question. Then when you do find an example, it will be the perfect opportunity to examine why you have denied this particular truth. In this way, you will become more able to see it in the future.
For example, imagine that your son tells you things that you believe are false. Imagine you see signs in the environment that indicate he is smoking and he says he is not. If you are ignoring what you see and telling yourself stories to keep you from having to ask yourself, “is he really smoking?” and “do I trust him right now?” it is less likely that you will discover the truth. When you begin to notice what you have been ignoring and ask yourself why you ignore certain information, you may discover any number of things. Maybe you believe if he lies about one thing, he’ll lie about everything. Maybe you have a fear of people smoking and dying as a result. Whatever the reason, simply becoming aware of why you ignore certain things will allow you to see more clearly.
Imagine your reason is that you are very frightened people will lie to you. Imagine that in your mind if someone lies to you, then you must protect yourself by cutting off relations with them completely. So you cannot notice when people in your family are lying. You will want to examine this belief and see if there are other ways to look at things. From this series of blogs, you see that trust is not so black and white. Once you recognize this belief is not serving you and you decide to open up your mind to see where people are perhaps not telling the truth, you see things you did not see before.
Learn to face situations head-on. Once you learn to be aware what you have been ignoring, you can ask the tough questions, of others, and of yourself. There is an old saying that “the only way out is through.” The more we ignore the difficult issues and try to go around them, the more they recur. Again, imagine you found cigarettes in your son’s pocket and ignored them or told yourself a story so you would not believe he was hiding the truth from you. Now with your newfound awareness, you can face it head-on. Ask him, “Do you smoke?” Find a way to make it safe for him to tell you the truth.
2. Things we are Afraid to Say
Be honest with people about what you see. If you have a client or an associate who is habitually late, tell them that you are noticing they were late on this day and that day. If their lateness is having an effect on your ability to trust them, tell them that too. “It makes it difficult for me to trust that you will show up when you say you will given how often you have been late.” If you have a secretary (or a boss) who does not deliver when he says he will, tell him that. “In this case and that case, I notice that you gave me your work product on Thursday and I believed that you had agreed to get it to me by Monday.” If this behavior makes it harder to trust him, say so. A tip in this area – don’t say anything if you are angry about it. Wait until the emotion has gone out of the situation for you. Further, this may not be a black and white discussion of he did or did not deliver on time, though in your mind you believe it will. It likely will be an opening to a discussion – either about how he would like to improve, or possibly that he did not see the agreement in the way you did. Either way, this is what you want – a discussion about trust and what makes us trust and not trust and what can be done differently in the future in order to avoid this situation.
It builds trust, with others and with ourselves, to be aware and say what is so. Talk about trust and those things that break and build it. Do you have a difficult conversation pending with someone? Have it today. Face things head-on.
The same applies — become very curious about where and what you are ignoring and then investigate why. Tell yourself the unvarnished truth.