How do you build trust in relationships?

In recent months I have had a range of clients that have presented me with the importance of this question.

John Gottman, who is a leader in the field of couples therapy, has some useful ways of thinking about this issue as he reminds us that trust is built in small moments called ‘sliding door moments’ which highlight the potential for either building connection or turning away from our partner or significant other. It is in these moments that we often don’t recognise the significance of the way we respond.

I would ask you to think carefully about various moments in time where this may have occurred and how you have responded to a partner, friend or family member. Did you stop and notice when your partner/close friend/family member was really not how they usually are or did you ignore those signals that something was amiss. It is easy in the rat race of our lives to miss important cues that are opportunities to strengthen and connect us to the most important people in our lives.

In essence Attunement is the mechanism for the basis of building trust in relationships.

A = Awareness of the other person’s emotion
T = Turning toward the emotion
T = Tolerance of two different viewpoints in moving forward
U = Showing Understanding of the nature of one’s partner/friend/family member
N = Responding in a Non-defensive way
E = Responding with Empathy

The atom of betrayal is not just turning away from the emotion in another person, but ignoring over many occasions the evidence that is before you suggesting attention needs to be directed towards greater attunement of this important person in your life.

Take notice and be present!

This is a simple but important take home message that trust in each other is built over a long period of time. This deeper trust is built by how we respond in brief moments in time that convey a message that we take notice and show care and concern, when it may be just as easy to look away and ignore the moment of passing opportunity.

If you are struggling with trust in a relationship, our psychologists at Attuned Psychology are here to assist you in identifying the barriers to trust and learning how to develop the skill of attunement.

Rachel Elliot

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