Can I Trust You?

“That’s one high trust cat!” My husband said last weekend while we were relaxing by the fireplace. (I snapped the picture because I KNEW it would make a good post.)

Habibi Trust

Before I go further, please meet Habibi. He’s our finicky, sometimes cranky, 17 year old boy, who, despite this chill photo, shows no signs of slowing down. 

And he definitely trusts us.

After all, for 17 years we made sure he had food, a clean litter box, regular vet appointments and shots (which, if anything were going to ruin our trust, it would be the annual vet visit), a comfy spot (or 3) to nap, some outdoor time and a friend to play with on a daily basis.

What more could a cat want?

But let’s get back to trust

First, what is it? Well, it’s often the result of nurturing a relationship. Trust is confidence, integrity, warmth, compassion, physical presence, consistency. It’s seeing others for who they are and interacting in a non-judgmental way.

Why is it important? Trust is what turns strangers into devoted fans. You know, the employee who sticks around or the client who speaks favorably about you to others.

In her 2016 book Presence, author Amy Cuddy suggests people size you up when they first meet you by first asking “Can I trust you?” After that they ask “Can I respect this person?” And that’s when you prove competence.

Yet, so often we flip that switch and force our competence or expertise on people before we establish trust.

How can you tell someone trusts you?

Here’s the fun part and what I observed by watching my cat: 

Open Posture

Belly up for a cat is a big deal. Makes him vulnerable to prey. 

In humans, “Open” might make people feel vulnerable in various settings – speaking, networking, running a meeting or team –  and close themselves off by hiding behind things like credentials, “I’m busy”, crossed arms, or video off on Zoom. And yet “open” is a sign of trust – in both directions. 

Focused and Relaxed

Habibi was content and focused on cleaning himself, not looking around waiting for a better option or guarding himself from an attack.

Relaxed and focused for humans might look like listening, empathy, not checking phones or scrolling through social media or waiting for another (better?) opportunity while talking to people. Keeping people engaged is a two way street: be interesting AND be interested.


While cleaning himself, Habibi’s purr sounded so loud and fierce I thought for sure he could power a small snow blower.

Giving people skills to advocate for their work is useful but only when the environment allows full expression of emotions and ideas without a fear of judgement or rejection. Emotional intelligence helps to create that space.

The Bottom Line

Trust is the result of consistent action. It can be built and trust can be broken. Learning how to:

  • Listen & empathize
  • Be curious and genuinely interested in others
  • Create an environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves
  • Make sure people have what they need to survive and thrive.
  • Spend time with people even when I don’t need anything

…all matter.

Thanks to Habibi the cat, I have a daily reminder to stay open, remain focused and create an environment for others to thrive.

Talk to me!

Do you have cats?

What is your favorite winter weekend activity?

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About the blog

Humor, stories, and insights, delivered 2x per month, to perform without the pressure.

Topics include mental health, work, human connection, creativity and more.


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