By Kathi Bush MA, LCPC

Hello! You’ve made it to Part Six, our final section, where we’ll discuss point number five and our conclusion. We’ve covered a lot in the first four points. We said that building trust takes time, happens with “safe” people, is established when good repair work is done following relationship injury, and coincides with good judgment and character discernment. Now on to our fifth and final point: Be someone trustworthy.

I hope that after reading this, you’ll walk away with something helpful or thought provoking for you or your relationships. This topic often raises questions that take us deeper into this area or into other areas, so keep pondering and asking questions. Above all, ask the Lord, whose idea it was to relate and connect, to guide you.

Be someone trustworthy.

To have deeper relationships in which there is mutual trust, there’s a level of emotional and social intelligence we need to have. In order to share ourselves, we need to be able to identify our feelings, needs and wants, at least to a basic degree. Then we have to have some level of social skills to reach out and form relationships. Daniel Goleman first taught us these skills in his book Emotional Intelligence (1995) and later Social Intelligence (2006). If you think you need help in these basic skills, there are a lot of practical resources today in books, videos, and even individual therapy.

Here are some of the basics to being a person in whom one can emotionally trust:

On your end, identify your feelings, needs and wants. Be open to your pain, brokenness, and weakness. Decrease defensiveness and ask for support and input. Share with safe people, receiving their compassion, and learning from their perspective and wisdom. That process helps us find healing.

With others, listen well. Reflect back to them their feelings based on what they are telling you, not on what you are interpreting, or how you think they should feel. Verify you have understood them correctly. Then, don’t manufacture a response so you can come across as insightful. Don’t garner up advice if you genuinely are at a loss to know what say. Don’t problem solve if in the moment they desire and need a listening ear. Be truly other-focused.

Remember to use all of these skills in marital and family relationships. You’ll need to be especially mindful of these in times of conflict. Rather than vehemently pursuing your point, remind yourself to stop, become other-focused, and engage these skills. Hopefully, your spouse or family member will do the same for you.

Take these basics and approach relationships with safe people in a manner that is welcoming but not pushy, intentional yet not forced. Others will see you are a safe person, and trust you, too.

So let’s wrap it up

We’ve covered a lot because trust develops within the context of a number of variables and is often not a clean, linear, step-by-step process. It can be messy. Sometimes the greatest headway in trust is made when really good repair work is done following a relationship injury, as a better understanding of each other emerges and a deeper, more intimate connection is established.

As you seek to build and maintain your own healthy community of others, know this: when you make yourself open and vulnerable to your own growth process, when you learn how to discern who is best for you in close relationships, and when you show yourself to be a safe person especially in times of repair, trust will follow. Just give it time.


Goleman, Daniel PhD. (1995). Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. New York, NY: Bantam Books.

Goleman, Daniel PhD. (2006). Social Intelligence: The Revolutionary New Science of Human Relationships. New York, NY: Bantam Dell.

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