How to win someone’s trust
or how to earn it is something that I am often thinking about these days. I have just purchased 4 horses that I have only seen one day before and now want to work with for the foreseeable future. As I will have to rely on them for my own safety, my children’s and all of my future clients, I want to build really strong relationship with them. And to be able to do that, I feel that they really need to trust me so that I can really trust them.
Now, horses are totally tuned to figuring out in every second whether they can trust an animal or person around them because all the centuries of their survival have taught them to do so. No matter what my musings look like and what great ideas I come up with, they are checking me out constantly. So, no use in teaching my horses to find out that they can trust me – I simply have to show myself as trustworthy.
How do I do that?
My so far subconscious plan that I am now dragging into the open includes the following ideas:
To be able to get to know anyone you have to be around them! Not just for the good times, not just for a phone call, not just for feeding or a quick training session, no, you have to stick around. I might go by what I have heard from other people or by how someone acts with other people and animals, but to really trust someone with every aspect of your life, you need to spend a lot of time together. So, that is what I do! My barn right now is dusty and hot and I don’t have a comfy place to sit nor a cool drinking fountain – so it is not only wonderful to hang out a day at the barn, but I try to stick around as much as possible and as my family life allows me.
SHOW THAT YOU CARE!
Most of us have learned from our parents in our childhood what it feels like to be taken care of. And when for the first time, we are away from them and feel miserable or sick, we finally learn to appreciate what they have done all this time:-)! Taking care of someone else is a big learning field that is interconnected with topics like empathy, sensitivity, responsibility and many others and it would lead a bit too far to go into the details of it.
When we take care of an animal it often becomes a bit more tangible: The animal needs food, simple hygiene, health care, love, attention and training. Where as the first three are easy to checklist and fulfill, even if they might be time consuming and sometimes expensive, the last three leave a lot to individual interpretation.
I my daily routine this means that I go to the barn every day, pick up the horses‘ poop, check on their hay and water, check their pasture and make sure that I check in with each of them personally. At least I want to have looked them over, see how they are behaving with the others, if they are eating and drinking by the time I leave again. And then depending on how much time I have I try to spend some extra time with each of them 3-4 times a week. That might be brushing, leading, cuddling, cleaning, talking or having guests come in and introduce them to the horses.
I can see that they know I care by the fact that they come over when they want to be scratched or also simply check in, when they come to me for protection from another horse bugging them.
BE AUTHENTIC AND OPEN!
If you have been with horses before, you might know that they have a wonderful way of making you be authentic, because if you aren’t they won’t buy it!
Sometimes though, there can be a thin line between being authentic and not using any self-control. While it is not that dangerous to be exuberantly happy or sad around your horse (although you might totally miss what the other people and animals around you are feeling), there are other states that can do much more harm. So if you are authentically angry from something that just happened to you, I am not saying, make sure your horse knows you are angry. Working with a horse when you are angry doesn’t work at all. They are so fine-tuned to your emotions that you being angry will put them in a constant flight-modus. And if you continue and don’t give them a chance to flee, they might turn that into a fight-modus. If you are too angry to work with your horse, take the time to chill out with them and get rid of your anger! And if you are too angry for that, too, then you might all be better of if you just pick up the poo, check food and water and then leave again. Once you learn to use the horse as a mirror for your feelings, you will get much better at being aware of them and also being able to influence your emotions and moods.
Being open to me means to be willing to experience unexpected outcomes, new learning, strangeness at any time in a relationship. Every time you meet you might learn something about someone that you had no idea of before. Or you might realize that something you have done lots of times before, doesn’t work in this case. Or your partner might suggest a way of doing things that you have never before considered. It also means to learn when to use your instincts and when to overrule them.
And this way of being open is probably the thing I enjoy most about having my horses at the moment. Right now, I don’t have schedule, I don’t have training plan, and I don’t have any customers that I have to satisfy. I can be totally open to my horses and play with my instincts and their ideas without having to worry about rules, opinions, regulations. And I am very much looking forward to what is going to become of it!
So, you might be wondering why I am actually writing all this down?
First of all, I am convinced that it is always a good exercise for ourselves to bring subconscious behaviour into the consciousness. One way of doing that for me is writing it down. Especially as I am on my own right now and don’t get much feedback, I want to make sure, I know what I am doing.
And secondly, I find it amazing to see, how much of this is applicable in exactly the same way when it comes to working with horses and when it comes to my daily interaction with other people. This is the reason why I believe in Coaching with Horses. There is so much in our behaviour, our thoughts and actions that we do without noticing. But when we do it with horses and get their feedback, it all come up to the surface where we can muse over it, evaluate it and attempt to change it.
If you have issues with trust, either trusting others or being trusted, if you want to find out how trustworthy you are perceived or what you might be able to do to change that, if you want to do that authentically and not by manipulating others or simply by dressing in the right way or driving the right car, if you are up to learning something new about yourself and your relationships, why don’t you come and visit me and my horses? Hope to see you soon!