How to Build Trust in Relationships With Family & Friends

by Paul Bright

One of the pillars of a relationship -- whether it's with family or friends -- is trust. Trusting relationships will encourage family and friends to spend more quality time with you. Building trust also fosters positive communication among family and friends. Whereas negative communication or no communication at all demonstrates mistrust. If you are new to a family or friendship or you are trying to repair a broken relationship, there are steps you can take to help them learn how to trust you.

Communicate your feelings genuinely with family members. Expressing your individuality helps your loved ones learn to trust who you are, according to a Utah State University program designed to strengthen family ties. If you are honest about how you feel in all situations, your loved ones can learn to trust your words whether they agree with what you say or not. Use tact when expressing yourself so that you can avoid any unnecessary hurt feelings.

Use active listening skills when your family and friends talk to you. Knowing that you are truly listening helps build trust because active listening demonstrates that you care about their words. Active listening skills include making eye contact, refraining from interrupting and occasionally nodding your head. Use phrases such as "I understand" and reflect what they say when they make a point.

Keep your promises. Following through with your promises demonstrates dependability, which fosters trust in relationships with family and friends. If you have to break a promise, make sure you have a reasonable explanation for doing so.

Become altruistic. Families tend to have more positive relationships when members act altruistically, which is defined as performing actions for others with no regard to personal benefit. Helping your family or friends in an emergency situation is an example of altruism. When family and friends see you go out of your way for them, they can count on you to be there for them.


  • Seek family counseling if there is too much mistrust and communication has become overtly negative. A family counselor can help everyone process through the communication problems, identify the source of the breakdown and work through building better listening skills among the members.

About the Author

Paul Bright has been writing online since 2006, specializing in topics related to military employment and mental health. He works for a mental health non-profit in Northern California. Bright holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of North Carolina-Pembroke and a Master of Arts in psychology-marriage and family therapy from Brandman University.

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