You are wired for relationships. The worst punishment known to man is solitary confinement. Jeff Haden, contributing editor to Inc, wrote: “A clinical review of nearly 150 studies on friendships found that people with strong social ties had a 50 percent better chance of survival, regardless of age, sex, health status, and cause of death, than those with weaker ties. The conclusion was based on information on more than 300,000 individuals who were followed for an average of 7.5 years. In fact, according to the researchers, the health risk of having few friends was similar to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and more dangerous than being obese or not exercising in terms of decreasing your lifespan.”

Our need for friends is a big deal. The basic foundation and building block to relationships is trust. Without trust you have zero chance of building a deep, meaningful relationship. We must learn how to be a trust builder and a trust giver. Both are crucial.

In which relationship do you need to stop making excuses and decide that you are going to build stronger trust with so you can have a healthier relationship? Is it your spouse, child, parent, friend, co-worker or neighbor?

Here are two practical and powerful ways to build trust. No. 1 is “Talk with honesty.” This obviously starts with always telling the truth. Proverbs 24:26 is a fascinating verse: “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.” Dishonesty always hurts and separates people…always. Honesty and intimacy always go together.

We must talk with honesty even when uncomfortable. Sometimes we don’t tell the truth because we are afraid of getting hurt or hurting the other person. We don’t want to rock the boat. When you do that, you are settling for inauthentic, surface relationships. Sometimes being nice is really being mean. Ephesians 4:5 reminds us to speak the truth in love.

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Honesty is very black and white for me. We are either an honest person or we are not. If we choose to be a dishonest person in only “some settings” or only with “some people” we are dishonest in all settings with all people.

No. 2 is “Respect the needs of others.” We can fall into a pattern where we are very respectful in public; say please and thank you; smile and show kindness. But when we get around those who are close to us, our family and friends, we are “comfortably rude.” Hey, get me some ketchup. Do it yourself, lazy. Shouldn’t our respect meter be pegged when we are at home and when we are with those closest to us?

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Respect means seeing the other person as a unique creation from God even with their faults, warts and idiosyncrasies. Respect is treating others with dignity, honor and kindness; not because of what they do or don’t do but because they are a creation of God’s.

Here are some very practical ideas on how to show respect. Actively listen with your eyes, ears, mind and body. Listening is one of the least expensive and most rewarding gifts you can give those you love. Be on time. Practice the 10 to 1 rule: 10 words of encouragement and praise to every one word of criticism. Brag about people behind their back.

Build trust and bring life. Let’s do this.