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Trust is earned, but once it's lost, it's very difficult to get back. I'm sure that's a universal truth. I've been thinking a lot about the nature of trust lately. My inspiration is a stray cat we named Snowdrift, who cautiously but deliberately adopted my husband and me last winter after establishing residence in our woodpile. Although we fed and interacted with the cat daily, it took us 6 months to entice her into a carrier for a much needed "spa day" at the veterinary hospital. Imagine our surprise when we learned se'd already been spayed and declawed.
Against the odds, this little cat survived being abandoned without defenses. Now she has a bedroom in our home, good food, clean water, toys, and two people who adore her. When the time is right, we'll introduce her to our other feline family members. She's doing very well-enjoying human attention, but still taking refuge under the bed whenever she's startled or afraid. We're taking it slow, building trust. We wonder about her background...what she endured before finding us. Our "original" cats have been well loved and protected since they were kittens. In turn, they've developed excellent social skills and confidence.
I think about the people who've suffered life experiences that impose lasting barriers to establishing trust. These scars don't easily heal. At work, I oversee two new graduate internship programs in emergency nursing. It's a very -demanding field, but my team and I strive hard to inspire confidence in our new nurses and to build a foundation of trust during a professionally fragile period. Of course, it's not just the new graduates who can benefit from this approach. It's really all of us, including our patients. You can certainly survive without trust-like Snowdrift did-but I doubt that anyone can truly thrive.
What builds a culture of trust? We each have a role. It starts with the personal decision to act in a rational, consistent, kind, and respectful manner during interactions with others. Integrity and caring are part of this equation. These are conscious behavioral choices that communicate investment in another's well-being. When these choices are reciprocated, strong bonds are created. For the people (and animals) who establish such relationships, the world is a much nicer place.
Until next time...
Linda Laskowski-Jones, MS, RN, ACNS-BC, CEN, FAWM
Editor-in-Chief, Nursing2011 Vice President, Emergency, Trauma, and Aeromedical Services Christiana Care Health System, Wilmington, Del.
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