The Importance of Trust in a Relationship

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Effortless" by Greg McKeown. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Why is trust so important in relationships? What is the key to building and maintaining trust?

Trust is the glue that holds relationships together. When there’s little trust in a relationship (whether personal or professional), it will take much more time, effort, or money to confidently get the results you want.

Read about the importance of trust in a relationship and how to recover trust when it’s lacking.

Build and Maintain Trustful Relationships

In our personal and professional lives, we rely on others. So how can we make our relationships easier to manage? McKeown’s answer to this is trust. Relationships built on trust will take much less effort than those that aren’t. In a workplace, a team that trusts each other will be much more productive. In a personal relationship, trust makes maintaining a healthy and happy bond easier. Therefore, the first thing to do is to simply surround yourself with trustworthy people. As a boss, hire people you feel you can rely on. When choosing a friend or romantic partner, prioritize trustworthiness. 

Even if we try to surround ourselves with trustworthy people, there will always be times when a lack of trust arises in our relationships. McKeown argues that while people usually blame each other for a lack of trust, it’s often the structure of the relationship that’s to blame. When people have different expectations for a relationship, their goals don’t match, or their roles aren’t clearly defined, the relationship can become distrustful. 

To avoid this breakdown of trust, build a strong foundation from the beginning. In our personal lives, this can just mean being open and upfront about how we feel and what we want and expect from one another. In the professional world, building a foundation of trust means clearly defining collective goals and personal responsibilities, as well as properly incentivizing employees when they meet these goals and responsibilities.

Trust Tax Versus Trust Dividends

In The Speed of Trust, business and productivity expert Stephen M.R. Covey expands on McKeown’s ideas about the importance of trust in a relationship. Covey also argues that trust helps you be more efficient with less effort. One way Covey explains this is to frame relationships as paying a “trust tax” or receiving a “trust dividend.” 

In trustworthy relationships, you receive “trust dividends” from your personal interactions. The trust you have can magnify the results of your effort. For example, when buying a used car, you’ll save a lot of time, effort, and mental energy if you buy it from a friend you trust to be honest about the car’s condition. 
The Importance of Trust in a Relationship

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Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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