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7 Steps to Build Trust

7 Steps to Build Trust

We have all heard the saying ‘trust is earned and not given’ and equally we have all said to somebody in our life ‘I don’t trust you’. but what exactly is trust and does trust mean the same thing to you as it does to me?!

Brene Brown gave an incredible talk on Oprah’s SuperSoul Sunday Podcast where she discusses ‘The Anatomy of Trust’. You can take a listen to the Podcast here, but for the purpose of this post I will summarize the message which I took away from it..

She speaks about their being an opportunity to build trust or an opportunity to betray.

Charles Feltman describes Trust as:

Trust is choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else.

Distrust is: What I have shared with you that is important to me, is not safe with you.

Based on the research Brene Brown collected, she believes that Trust can be broken down into the acronym of BRAVING.

B = Boundaries (clear, consistent)

R = Reliability (over and over)

A = Accountability (owning mistakes and allowing for the mistakes of others)

V = Vault (confidentiality)

I = Integrity (choosing right over fun, fast, and easy)

N = Non-judgment  (compassion, common humanity)

G = Generosity (assuming the most generous thing about a person)

Boundaries - I trust you if you are clear about your boundaries and you hold them and you are clear about my boundaries and you respect them.

Reliability - I can only trust you if you do what you say you are going to do. You do what you say you are going to do, over and over and over again. Not just once. In our working lives, it means we are very clear on our limitations so we don't come up short and don't deliver. Being honest with ourselves and others.

One of my all time favorite books is called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Riuz. It’s based on the 4 principles which relate to reliability.





Accountability - I can only trust you that if when you make a mistake you are willing to Own it, Apologies for it, Make amends and when I make a mistake I am able Own it, Apologize for it, Make amends.

Vault - What I share with you, you will hold in confidence. What you share with me, I will hold in confidence. She goes on to explain that we don’t understand there is another side of the vault …. If a good friend comes up to you and shares gossip on another friend, she has just shared something with you that is not hers to share and now your trust with her is completely diminished. You demonstrate your respect for confidentiality for all by not talking bad about other people.

Integrity - Acting from a place of integrity and encourage me to do the same.





Non-Judgement When I can fall apart, when I am in a struggle, that I can ask you for help and not be judged by you and when you can fall apart, are in struggle and ask for help,you get the help, without being judged by me. It’s hard as we are quicker to help than ask for help. If you can’t ask for help and they don't reciprocate that, that is not a trusting relationship.

Generosity - A relationship is only a trusting one if you can assume the most generous thing about my words, intentions and behaviors. So if a friends screws up, you will make a generous assumption as opposed to not returning their calls/emails and waiting for a moment to spring it on them, almost as a form of attack.


So that we can understand why and where we don’t trust in our individual relationships, so that we have these words to explain where we are struggling and then we can bring healing to those areas. We can hone in on specifically on what's not working, rather than using blanket statements like ‘I don’t trust you’.

Something my Somatic Healing teacher Kimberly Ann Johnson often says in our classes which I love is …


The BRAVING acronym works on Self-Trust in the exact same way.

Personally Trust has changed and morphed across the years as my understanding of what Trust means to me has deepened.

When I was 20 years old I took on my first role where I was managing people, working as an Assistant Manager of a children’s clothes store. I was a energetic go-getter who wanted to give this job my very best, winning over the managers and teams respect and admiration. Unfortunately this was not how it went. I came up against a lot of resistance, being the new kid on the block and I was also a good 20 years younger than the 6 staff members I was managing who had been working there for many years and new the place inside out.

Week 2 into the job,my manager called my little 20 year old self into her office and sat me down for a talk. She explained that in order for me to gain my colleagues respect, I had to gain their trust and that meant spending time with each person, allowing them to get to know me and for me to get to know them. Releasing any preconceived notions of what a manager ‘should be’ .

My managers advice to me showed me that people want to be seen, want to be heard and want to valued and that work relationships need the same as our personal, where Trust, pride and respect is front and center.

‘Aisling if you want to do well in this role and for people to like you, respect you and work to their best ability, you need to have their trust and then you will have their respect.”  

I wasn’t sure how to approach this at the start, but as I slowly got to know the ladies, I started enjoying learning from them, and getting to know them and over time we became friends. I grew to become a strong manager because of their trust and support in me and later that year our Store won the best in the country, as we smashed our sales target together and all ended up getting some nice bonuses. It felt good to work together and to be able trust in each other as we celebrated.

I carried this lesson forward with me in life, in every single role I have ever worked in and I can honestly say, most of my best friends for life, I made in the workplace. I have always enjoyed going to work, getting to know people and building relationships. Because connection is what brings me happiness, we all seek connection if we are being honest. Connection - Community - Love.

In another part of Brene’s talk she speaks about our Marble jar friends. She tells the story of how her daughters teacher has a jar of marbles in their classroom and when the students collectively are being good, she adds marbles and when not, she takes them away. She describes trust in friendships as those friends, who over time you have created trust by adding marbles to the jar.

These marbles are created by all small acts of trust, based on the BRAVING acronym.


Some examples of these small examples Brene mentions where trust is built:.

  • I really trust my boss, she even asked me how my moms chemotherapy is going.

  • I trust my neighbour, because is something is going on with my kid, it doesn't matter what she is doing she will come over and help me figure it out.

  • Number 1 thing about trust is people who attend funerals - I trust her as she showed up at my sisters funeral.

  • Another huge marble jar moment - I’ll trust him because he will ask for help when he needs it. Being able ask for help is huge.



I recently did an online course in Somatic Healing and a huge part of this is based around trust. The course, Activating Your Inner Jaguar has to do with how we love, how we show up for relationships, how we parent, how we deal with money (or don’t deal with it), and how we do sex.

In this course Kimberly spoke on over-sharing. We all have those friends who consider themselves trustworthy, as they claim to be an open-book and often they overshare the most intimate details of their life with you within a minute of meeting you. Over sharing does not build trust.

Trust is a slow and steady, getting to know each other, trust building marble jar exercise.

In my life I have three memories around Trust which really stand out for me as ‘light-bulb’ or ‘aha’ moments..


When I was 24 years of age, slightly more knowledgeable and caring than my 20 year old self mentioned above, however still an ego-driven go-getter elder millennial, thinking I know it all, eagerly climbing the career ladder. I remember during that time of my life, I would pride myself on being a person who always ‘Spoke my mind’ and that with me ‘You always knew where you stood’ and I saw this as a good thing.

Then one day I was having a conversation with one of my closest friends and she said something to me that really struck a chord, my ‘aha’ moment.

She said:

Speaking your mind isn't always a good thing or a kind thing.

Instantly I knew she was right, and that just because a person easily voices their opinion and lets you know where you stand, does not make it right. In fact the opposite is true.

I reflected on that comment for many months and ultimately it changed how I communicated with everyone. I no longer just said what I thought, or gave my opinion without being asked for it. I listened. I released any sense of entitlement to be heard and stopped allowing my ego run the show. Listening to someone, without giving your input, even if it’s trying to be helpful, without being asked is really powerful. Not waiting for them to finish their sentence so you can share your story, giving the other person the floor and being fully present. That my friend creates trust and intimacy in every relationship.


The next example is when I was 26 years old. I go to visit my best friend and her boyfriend abroad. It’s a short flight away and it was my first time meeting her boyfriend. A month previous to my visit I had confided a personal story with her over the phone. During my visit with them, her boyfriend brought us this topic causally in conversation. I remember in that moment feeling so deeply hurt and  betrayed, as she has broken the vault by telling him my secret.

If you recall the Vault concept from above, if a friend shares something with you, in trust, she is not sharing it with you and another, she is sharing it with you ONLY. This is how trust is created. If you wish to share a friends story with your partner, ask your friend for permission first.

It’s actually one of the things that made me fall in love with my fiance Colm. He has a sense of loyalty and trust to his friends like nobody I have ever met. He honors it and he will never gossip or break that code. I deeply respect and love him for this.


A big part of this is knowing which relationships you have in your life that you can trust in. This was a path I personally had to learn to navigate after moving to a new country and becoming a Mother for the first time. I met so many new people and it took me a while to understand the depth of these friendships. If you know me, you will know that I treat each friendship as an individual relationship and that I will be there for you, I will honor my word and I will always show up.

However the flip side of this is that I expected this in return. Whereas now I have learned how to differentiate my friends and my marble jar friends and understand that not everyone thinks or operates in the same way as me. We are all so different and that’s OK too. It’s probably fair to say, that now at the ripe age of 36, I am a lot (a lot) more laid back and easy going and my appreciation of the busyness of life and parenting has helped me relax my expectations.

Still you do need to know who are the friends that truly care for you, that you can trust and rely on, without always having to ask.

Friends that will pick you and your little one up in their car for a playdate so you don't have to walk in the pourings of rain.

Friends that will make you a cooked dinner when you are sleep deprived from a teething baby and feeling burnt out.

Friends who will be there for you and listen to you, when your family live 7,000 miles away.

Friends who remember to ask you how your new Yoga Business is going and remember to ask how your first class teaching went.

Really friends who care about you for you. These precious marble jar friends.


You release all expectation, upset, disappointment and anger on those who are not your marble friends and you reach a place of acceptance. You can continue your friendship within these boundaries of expectation.

Allow me give you one final example. Last Christmas, my daughter, fiance and I went home to Ireland for the month to visit our families. I hadn’t seen my own family in two years, as we had to stay in Canada while we applied for our permanent residency status, which we got - hooray.

The day after we returned back to Canada, I was out buying groceries for our home and I bumped into my friend. We spoke for about 15 minutes catching up on how her Christmas was and plans for the upcoming week. When I walked away from that conversation I realized she hadn’t asked me how my visit home to Ireland was, or anything about seeing my family for the first time in over 2 years. My first reaction was hurt, followed closely by anger but then I paused and I realized, that she isn’t a friend I consider to be in my trust circle, a marble friend and that even though I really like her, our children enjoy playing together and we see each other most weeks, I accept that this relationship is not a marble jar friendship and that in itself gives me peace. That being said, we don’t abandon people because of single incidents in our friendships, we use the G of BRAVING, generosity to give them the benefit of doubt for those good friends. This is simply one example in my life where I had to take a moment to see how I felt about what had happened.

When you know who those friends are in your life, you can do better and be better by focusing on building trust with each other.

Knowing the boundaries. Being there over and over again. Showing up. Honoring your word. Keeping their secrets. Living in integrity. Being free of judgement. Giving them the benefit of the doubt.

We do this for each other.

We do this for ourselves.

We gain trust.

When we have trust. We have friendship. We have Love.

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