The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Relying on or trusting

Working with a client, we reached a place where we started discussing the difference between relying on someone and trusting someone.

At first sight, they seem to be similar but going in depth we looked at the interplay between both.

When we rely on someone, we have an idea of what it is that they will do for us. It is an expectation. Whereas when we trust someone, we believe in that person and the values they are upholding. It might also lead to the belief that that person will do what we hope they will do.

The main difference though might be how to best come to either ability.

To be able to rely on someone, there is a need to have found some way of contracting or agreeing on what it is we are relying on. It also requires verifying respective understanding. Omitting to do so is projecting our expectations onto others. Relying on someone is making a bet on the future.

It is not possible to rely on someone without having established some trust.

Trusting someone else is much less clear. The belief that comes with trust is that things will work out even though one may not really know what one is hoping for. Trust is backward-looking and establishes itself through a sequence of actions that happen as expected or that create a sense of safety. It serves uncertainty by trying to provide an answer to it. It is built through a constant dialogue on issues that matter, on respective values, and on experiencing one’s beliefs in the other to be confirmed. It may need to be repaired, for example when relying on the other didn’t work out as expected.

Trust is based on a willingness to be vulnerable towards the other. The more vulnerable one allows oneself to be in that relationship, the more trust is necessary.

In essence, relying on someone can be contracted whereas trusting someone needs to be nurtured and kept within boundaries.

Failing to do so transforms disappointments into hurtful surprises.





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