Tag Archive for trust

You Gotta Be Kiddin’ Me

I’m really not surprised by the findings of this study when I think about it…but it took four studies to bring this information to light. Unfortunately, it seems to be some of the common knowledge that has been lost over the last several generations. Research out of the University of Chicago—Booth School of Business explored the impact of sharing food on feelings of closeness, trust, cooperation, and negotiation. The findings from these four studies suggest at least three things. (Read the study here)

  1. Eating similar foods with another person increases a sense of closeness and trust between them.
  2. Eating similar food leads to greater cooperation, a greater willingness to compromise, and faster resolution of differences.
  3. When a person gives information (in the form of a testimonial or advertisement), the information they give is trusted more when the speaker eats similar food as the listener.

Family having a big dinner at homeThese studies were done in terms of business and the authors made several applications to business. But what does it mean for families? First, I think it reminds us that the family meal is a wonderful time to build closeness and trust. As we sit down with our families to a meal in which we all eat “similar foods,” we can discuss ideas and happenings. We build trust. We cooperate and compromise in resolving minor differences.

Second, when you need to have a serious family discussion, put out some snacks to eat while you talk. Everyone does not have to eat the exact same food, but similar foods like “sweet” food, “salty” food, pizza (even with various toppings), noodles…you get the idea. By supplying similar food for everyone to eat, you create an environment geared toward:

  • Increased closeness and trust
  • Greater cooperation
  • Greater likelihood of listening to one another’s points of view
  • A greater willingness to compromise and reach a resolution more quickly.

This may all sound silly, but think about a scenario with me. Your 17-year-old daughter has been consistently coming in after curfew. So, you set out some crackers and cheese before asking her to sit down to talk with you. You pour her a glass of her favorite pop and share crackers and cheese while talking about her growing up and becoming more independent, the continued need for curfew, what she wants, and what you want. Imagine that conversation as compared to one in which you sit down with her at a bare table to talk about curfews.

  • Which will promote defensiveness and which will encourage cooperation?
  • Which will contribute to arguing and which might encourage listening?
  • Which will likely lead to escalating emotions and which will promote remaining calm?
  • Which promotes asserting my needs and which encourages respecting one another?

The answer seems plain to me. Eating together can help us resolve our differences and reach an agreement more easily. It may not produce a miracle, but it can sure help reach a respectful understanding and connection. Give it a try and see what happens.

The Killer Wall in Your Marriage

Defensiveness can kill a marriage. Think about it. One spouse, feeling attacked by the other, begins to defend himself and his actions. He builds a wall of defense between him Pointing fingers at each otherand his spouse rather than around him and his spouse. He thinks of protecting himself, not his marriage.  By establishing a wall of protection between him and his wife, he sends an implicit message that he will not accept her influence. The wall between them grows taller and thicker with each defensive experience. The couple grows more divided. Trust is breached. Overtime, this stance of defensiveness will build a wall strong enough to kill a marriage.

We want to tear down the wall of defensiveness between spouses and build a wall of protection around their marriage. Both spouses generally play a role in creating defensiveness; and both spouses need to play a role in ending that defensiveness. Here are 5 ways to decrease defensiveness in your marriage and assure a wall of protection is built around you and your spouse rather than between you and your spouse.

  • Cherish your spouse. Do something to let your spouse know you cherish her every day. Thank her for what she does to maintain your home. Acknowledge her wisdom and care in parenting and caring for you. Recognize and voice your respect for the work she accomplishes on the job, in your home, and in the community. Let your daily words and actions reflect how much you cherish your spouse.
  • Build trust with your spouse. The kisses when you part and the hugs when you reunite build trust. Completing the chores you said you would to complete and keeping the promises (large and small) you made build trust. Spending time laughing, playing, working, and just being with your spouse and children every day builds trust. Trust is built on the little things done throughout the day every day.
  • Each spouse can decrease defensiveness by taking responsibility for his or her actions. Listen for the kernel of truth in what you perceive as an accusation. It may be small, but accept even the smallest role you played in creating the situation. Acknowledge your part. Take responsibility. Apologize.
  • Accept your spouse’s influence by committing to change your part in the situation. As you do, your spouse will feel heard and understood. Feeling heard increases the desire for intimacy…and isn’t that what you really want in your marriage?
  • Complain instead of criticize. (Read For a Healthy Marriage Complain, Don’t Criticize). A criticism accuses, blames, and defames. A complaint focuses on the behavior you want to change. Focus on the behavior, not the person, when you bring up a concern.

Practice these five actions and you will build a wall of protection around your marriage rather than a wall of defense.

My Spouse an Angel? 4 Ways to Make it True

AngelWifeOne of my Facebook friends posted this pic. I love the proverb written on it: “If a man expects a woman to be an angel in his life, he must first create heaven for her…angels don’t live in hell.” I don’t know about you, but I want to live with an angel. So, I have to ask myself: how can I create heaven for my wife? How can I make my wife feel like an angel? Upon what is heaven built?

  • Heaven is built on honor—treating one another as special, precious, sacred. To create heaven for your wife, treat her with honor. Honor her above all others like a diamond above coal. Constantly think about the character and beauty you adore in your wife. Don’t stop with merely thinking about your admiration of her character and beauty. Let your words and actions communicate love and admiration to your wife. Let your eyes sparkle with delight and adoration when she walks into the room. Speak of her with high praise when you describe her to others.
  • Heaven is built on unfailing trust. To create heaven for your wife, live a life of integrity and faithfulness that will build trust. Let your actions and your speech enhance her sense of security and acceptance. Keep your promises. Be available. Remember: the small, positive moments build trust; so, enjoy playful interactions, simple adventures, joyful moments and moments of sorrow, friendly conversations, and laughter. Work to “keep in tune” with your wife’s emotions. Comfort her when she needs comforted. Rejoice with her when she rejoices. Rest with her when she needs rest. Join with her in life.
  • Heaven is built on servanthood. To create heaven for your wife, become a servant in your marriage. Serve your wife by listening to her and accepting her influence. Serve her by cooking dinner, washing clothes, or running the vacuum. Serve her by asking what she would like you to do to help her. Become the leader of servanthood in your home.
  • Heaven is built on sacrifice. Jesus willingly became the Sacrifice for our sin, a sacrifice that brought peace between man and God. Sacrifice opens the doors to heaven. To create heaven in your home, become a leader in sacrifice. Make small sacrifices like giving up the TV remote, giving away the last cookie, giving up your seat for your wife, giving up “the game” to take a walk…you get the idea. You may also make bigger sacrifices like giving up your music to listen to her music in the car, giving up time on your project to do what she desires, giving up the adventure movie to watch a “chick flick” followed by the emotional discussion of the movie…. You know what would prove a heavenly sacrifice in your home. And, you know that your sacrifice will produce greater security and open the doors for heaven in your home.


“Expect your wife to be an angel in your life”? Start creating heaven in your home. Build your home and marriage on honor, integrity and trust, servanthood, and sacrifice. Believe me, you will live with an angel…and you will get a taste of heaven on earth!

5 Ways Parents Undermine Their Parental Authority

In my work with teens I have noticed many parents want to be their teen’s best friend, their “BFF.” But, our teens do not want parents as their best friend. They want us to guide, mentor, and discipline. They need us to remain strong parents they can rely on to maintain the structures and teach the values that keep them safe. Of course, this all flows from relationship, but not a peer to peer, friend to friend relationship. It flows from a healthy parent-child relationship. With that in mind, let me share five things that undermine a healthy parent-child relationship, and, in undermining that relationship, interfere with effective parenting.

  1. Woman - Tough RapperDressing like your teen. Our teens do not want us to dress like them. They are differentiating from us, learning to be their own person. Dressing differently than us is a safe way in which to separate some. In fact, many teens become embarrassed by a parent who dresses like a teen.
  2. Socializing with your teen on social media like “one of the gang.” No need to constantly “like,” “retweet,” or “comment” on every post, tweet, or picture. Sure, parents need to monitor. We might even comment or “like” something, but don’t overdo it. Do so minimally. Let your teen have their individual space; and, make the time and effort to create a space for you and your teen to relate outside the world of social media. You can create space with your teen any place that provides the opportunity to look one another in the eye and talk instead of texting or messaging. Some great places to interact and talk with your teen include the car (when transporting all over town), a coffee shop, the front porch, walking the dog, playing a game…you get the idea. Make your main avenue for socializing with your teen some face to face contact.
  3. Siding with your teen’s boyfriend, girlfriend, or peer. In fact, do not even involve yourself in the drama of teen life. You can talk with your teen about relationships. Share ideas and ways to handle various relationships and stressors. In private conversations with your teen you might even point out areas in which you agree with their peers. But, look for areas of agreement with your teen. Your teen needs an advocate, an ally in the harsh world of teen drama. They also need someone who will help strengthen them with insight and wisdom for dealing with the drama. Offer your insight gained through years of experience. Encourage them to think about alternative perspectives. And, by all means, stay out of the minor teen drama. Let your teen learn to manage their social interactions on their own. Let them learn how to handle their own life drama independently.
  4. Telling your teen’s secrets. Your teen needs to know they can trust you and rely on you to keep their confidence. Don’t tell your good friend about the relationship struggle your teen opened up about. Don’t publish the “lovely talk with my wonderful teen” on Facebook after they tell you about an “interest in a certain boy” or tweet about “those teens who…” after they tell you about a rude comment made by a peer. Just keep it between you and your teen. When teens know they can trust you to keep the “little things,” they are more likely to come to you with the “big stuff.”
  5. Giving in on discipline. Teens need (and even want) parents who remain consistent and predictable in consequences. Loving and appropriate consequences help teens develop healthy boundaries and then internalize healthy limits. Give them this gift by thoughtfully and loving setting age-appropriate limits and consequences. Then stick with them. (See Four Benefits of Negotiating With Your Child)


The five actions described above will undermine your parent-child relationship and your influence on your child. Consider them carefully. Then, lovingly step back from any desire to become your child’s BFF and remain their loving, involved parent instead.

A Page From the NBA Playbook for Your Family

Father and son smiling for the cameraMichael Kraus (a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California in 2008) discovered a surprising way to gauge the potential success of your favorite NBA team. He tested many possibilities. Higher paid players did not predict success. Neither did preseason expectations or early season performance. The greatest predictor of a successful season for a NBA team was the number of times the players reached out and touched one another during the first games of the season. The higher the number of touches, the greater the chance of success. Touch somehow communicated trust and enhanced cooperation among the players. As a result, the team was free to focus on the game, free to pass the ball rather than take “an ill-advised shot,” free to work together. So, if you want to predict a winner in the NBA, count the number of times players slap one another on the back, chest bump, high five, fist bump, head slap, hug, huddle, or somehow engage in touch on the court.


Don’t we want an environment of trust and cooperation in our family? Don’t we desire a family environment that frees each family member to seek input rather than make “ill-advised” decisions? Maybe we can take a hint from the NBA play book and add some healthy touch into our family life. Give a fist bump, a high five, a hug, a loving slap on the back, or some other kind of creative healthy touch. That touch will build affection and trust. It will enhance cooperation. It may even predict a successful family season this year!

Good Parents Do Nothing!!!

That’s right—you read that title correctly: Good Parents Do Nothing…well, sometimes anyway. I know it goes against our grain and our desire to create the perfect child, but sometimes the best course of action to take with your child is to do nothing. Don’t get me wrong; I still think parents need to remain very active in their children’s lives. Our children need us to guide them and even protect them at times. Still, sometimes the best and most loving course of action a parent can take is to do nothing. When we avoid taking every opportunity to intervene in our children’s activities, we communicate a very important message—”I trust you to do the right thing.” When we permit them to make mistakes rather than jumping in to “save them,” we communicate that same message—”You are a capable person who can learn from mistakes.”

If you want to communicate a different (an ineffective and less healthy) message to your child, jump right in to solve their problems, fix their mistakes, and make sure they have fun. Intervene whenever they encounter a struggle. Intrude into your children’s every activity. Make sure you are present and involved with everything they do. That way, you can communicate messages like the ones below:

·         “You cannot learn on your own. I have to teach you everything.”

·         “I am uncomfortable with any mistake you make. Your mistakes make me feel inadequate.”

·         “I want to be proud of your accomplishments…and I’m afraid your accomplishments will not be good enough to make me proud.”

·         “I secretly want you to fulfill all my dreams.”

·         “You must need me or I am incomplete, useless, inadequate.”

·         “You must need me or I have no purpose.”

 I realize there will be times when a parent must step in and help, discipline, or play. Our children need us. However, they also need us to step back sometimes and do nothing so they can grow into competent and healthy young adults. 

Men, Build 6 Pillars of Trust

Do you want a strong, lasting marriage? A marriage that fills you and your spouse with joy until “death do us part?” Do you want a marriage that will inspire your children to “never settle for less” in their own marriage? A marriage that leaves a legacy of hope and teaches positive boundaries that will promote true marital bliss in your children’s lives and marriage? If you answered “yes” to these questions, you can begin to create that kind of marriage now. It begins with your leadership in the building of trust!

Establishing a high degree of trust in your marriage produces amazing dividends. Communication goes more smoothly as mutual trust removes the need to listen for ulterior motives and defend “myself.” Overall interactions become more open, relaxed, and enjoyable when they occur within the context of trust. Couples find their decisions more mutually satisfying when they trust their spouse to have the best interest of their relationship at heart.

 Take away trust and, in the words of Stephen Covey, you replace those dividends with a tax. With a lack of trust, communication becomes taxed with lengthy, defensive explanations. Interactions pay the tax of constant vigilance against ulterior motives and fear of being used for someone else’s selfish desires. Decisions become bogged down with arguments about “my” needs since I don’t trust my spouse to care about those needs. Mistrust carries heavy duties: fear, defensiveness, constant vigilance, and an emphasis on my needs that ultimately results in isolation. So, what can you do to build marital trust? I’m glad you asked…

      1.    A leader in trust will strive to become a person of trust. A person of trust leads by example. He remains open and transparent about his needs, emotions, and desires. Doing so informs his family that he trusts them with his innermost self. A leader in trust will also remain true to his word. His wife and his family know that his word is “as good as gold” and completely trustworthy!

2.   A leader in trust accepts responsibility for his personal growth. He actively confronts his shortcomings and works to change them for the better. He will make mistakes; but, he admits those mistakes, seeks forgiveness, and works to become more mature in character, speech, and behavior. 

3.   A leader in trust strives to maximize his wife’s emotional comfort and relational 
security. He speaks highly of his wife to others. His words and actions build his wife up, secure her emotional comfort, and strengthen her relational security. He also remains aware of her sensitivities. As a result, he avoids pushing her buttons and approaches sensitive areas with care and respect. When he unintentionally hurts her (and he will), he quickly admits his wrong and makes amends.

4.   A leader in trust will capitalize on everyday interactions to stay “in tune” with his wife. He will prove faithful in his presence and availability. As a result, he and his wife will enjoy times of adventure, play, and rest. To lead in trust demands intense, constant, and careful listening as his wife expresses her needs and concerns. It means listening wisely and patiently to discern whether to step in and meet the need expressed or to simply support his wife through the need. The husband who listens well will have a finger on his wife’s pulse and share a wonderful journey with her.    

5.   A leader in trust will show respect to his wife and others. He will avoid making negative comparisons or left-handed compliments. Rather than erecting subtle performance standards and judgments, he will offer unconditional acceptance. He will clarify realistic expectations while confirming the grace of unconditional acceptance even in the midst of misunderstanding, disagreement, or conflict.

6.   A leader in trust will focus on, and cherish, his partner’s positive qualities on a daily basis. He will open his eyes to those qualities he admires in his wife, acknowledge them openly, and speak of them often. He will also believe in her desire for him, trusting that she has the best interest of him, their relationship and their family in mind.

Men, you are called to lead your spouse in establishing these 6 pillars of trust in your marriage. You become the first to practice them. You lead the way…your wife and family will follow. I know, it sounds like a big job…and it is; but, the dividends are priceless!


Building Trust in Family Relationships

Have you ever wondered how to build trust in your family relationships? The Gottman Institute suggests five ways to build trust with your spouse. I believe those same five suggestions can build trust within your family. I have to warn you though…these suggestions appear small, even insignificant on the surface. They do not call for any flourishing gesture or dramatic, flamboyant action that suddenly creates a deep bond of trust between family members. There is no magic pill for building trust. No, these suggestions are subtle, but powerful, actions and attitudes that, when practiced daily, have a profound impact on trust in a family. Let me share each suggestion along with a brief explanation.
     ·         Make trustworthiness a priority in your relationship. As with all relationship building principles, start with yourself. Make it a priority to become a trustworthy person, a person others can trust. Develop your reputation as a person of honesty, integrity, and reliability. Follow through on your promises. Make your word “as good as gold.” Remain reliable in your actions and your affections. Live a lifestyle that is consistent with your honest speech. To develop a trusting relationship, become a trustworthy person.

·         Act to maximize each of your family members’ well-being. Do not look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of your spouse and family. Be considerate of their needs and desires. Look to increase their sense of security in relationship to you. Spend time with them. Discover their interests and create opportunities for them to grow in those areas of interest. Encourage their strengths. Become their Michelangelo—the person who brings out their best and encourages them to grow stronger in their “true self” every day.

·         Realize that trust is built and strengthened by small positive moments. You do not have to create the big, dramatic event to build trust or precious memories. The small, enjoyable, and positive moments build the greatest memories and the most enduring trust. Share little adventures. Play together. Show empathy. Learn things together. Share meals. Laugh together. Go for walks. When the negative emotions associated with disagreements and minor conflicts arise, you will have built a foundation that allows you to tune into the other person and share yourself. As you share yourself during conflict and then resolve conflict, trust grows exponentially.

·         Avoid negative comparisons. Comparisons contaminate trusting relationships. They cause trust to decay, create doubt about my value in the other person’s eyes, and diminish my sense of being accepted unconditionally. Comparisons create competition, bitterness, and resentment. Instead of comparing family members, practice unconditional acceptance. Each person has their own unique personality, strengths, and interests. Accept each person’s uniqueness, their own “bent.” Acknowledge that uniqueness and discover how those unique attributes contribute to their happiness, strengthen your family, and supplies a needed resource to those around them.

·         Cherish each of your family members’ positive qualities. Actively seek out the positive qualities and characteristics that you admire in your family members. Acknowledge those positive traits. Even when family members do things that you find irritating, step back and look for the positive aspect of that behavior or action. Then, take time to acknowledge that positive quality before discussing ways you can both work to reduce the irritation. Acknowledge positive attributes in each family member every day. Nurture a daily practice of gratitude for everything your family members provide and offer to you, to your relationship, and to your family. Keep your focus on what you admire in your family.
Five suggestions for building trust in family relationships. Nothing dramatic or hard-core, just small actions and words that, when practiced daily, result in growing trust.
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