Research and professional experience tell us that trust is an important component of every working relationship. When we trust our employees, we feel confident in their ability to execute tasks and responsibilities to the highest. When we trust our superiors, we feel assured in the business structure, safe and secure, and confident to execute our roles with the best of our abilities. When trust does not exist in the work environment, it is often followed by skepticism, defensiveness, micromanagement, and a “me first” mentality. So, if trust is so crucial, how do we continue to build it?

Recently I listened to a podcast that guest featured one of my favorite authors and researchers, Dr. Brené Brown. Brené’s books and research dive deeply into courage, shame, empathy, and vulnerability. In fact, her TEDTalk, “The Power of Vulnerability” is one of the top five most viewed, with over 35 million views. Her most recent work focuses on courage and leadership, particularly as it relates to the professional work setting. The podcast she most recently spoke on discussed this research and the core components of trust, or as she described it, the “Anatomy of Trust.”

Research showed that contrary to popular beliefs, trust doesn’t have to be built in the grand gestures, but rather the smallest of moments. In Charles Feltman’s, The Thin Book of Trust, “trust is choosing to make something important to you, vulnerable to the actions of someone else.” In the smallest of moments when someone asks for help at the office or looks to be overwhelmed, we have an opportunity to choose to connect with them in those small moments. When we choose to lift a helping hand in the midst of a busy workday or ask them if everything is okay, this is when trust is built. Brené simplified the makeup of trust down to the acronym, “BRAVING,” to help us understand what trust is and how to examine the trust we have in ourselves and with those we work with.

B – Boundaries: you hold them for others and expect them held for us

R – Reliability: you do what you say you are going to do over and over again; you are aware of your competencies and limitations, so you deliver on your commitments

A – Accountability: when you make a mistake, you are willing to own it, apologize, and make amends

V – Vault: you don’t share information or experiences that are not yours to share; relationships built on gossip are fake relationships meant to hotwire connection

I – Integrity: you choose courage over comfort, what’s right over what’s fun, fast or easy, and practice values rather than just professing them

N – Non-Judgment: we can both struggle and feel comfortable asking for help; we can share gaps in our knowledge and skills without fear of judgment

G – Generosity: the relationship is a trusting one if you can assume the most generous thing about my words, intentions, and behaviors, and I will do the same; when in doubt we seek to understand before we judge

One of the biggest takeaways and first action steps we must take is appraising the trust we have in ourselves. As Brené points out, “You can’t count on other people to give you something you don’t have for yourself.” Examine and analyze each of the components of trust and ask yourself how much self-trust you have. Do you set boundaries and follow them? Are you willing to own your mistakes,

apologize, and make amends? Do you practice your values rather than just professing them? Once we take a real, honest look at our own self-trust we can start to examine the trust (or lack thereof) we have with those we work with. When we have authentic trust in ourselves, we can start to brave our professional relationships with integrity, generosity, and every other structural branch of trust.