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Did you have a middle school crush?

My oldest came to me the other day and told me a girl at school likes him. My immediate question was, “Do you like her back?” His response was so typical of him. He said she was a nice girl, but he wasn’t interested in her “romantically.” First, I have to tell you that my inner “mom-voice” was kinda like…oh boy, here we go…the romantic relationships have arrived with my kids. But then, I got pretty serious with him.

His issue was he wanted to be prepared to tell her that he wasn’t interested in the event she told him she liked him. He didn’t want to hurt her feelings. 

Let me stop right there and tell you this: it’s the most incredible feeling in the world when your kids pause and think about other people. With all the not-so-great mom moments I’ve had over the years, this moment…well, it meant a lot to me. He’s growing up and learning to love others, even if it’s not romantic love. It’s the kind of love that we should all have for each other, and my heart just swelled outside of my body talking to him.

I told him the first thing you do when someone tells you something that might be hard to digest is to acknowledge the courage it took to approach you. It’s a BIG deal to be vulnerable with someone, and you should never take it lightly. 

We talked about how it’s so hard to share true feelings sometimes because you’ve got to trust the other person and feel comfortable and confident to be yourself. But, you know, here’s the deal. I don’t care if we’re talking about middle school crushes or colleagues at the office, having the guts to walk up to someone and have a conversation about hard things takes serious courage. It also takes a relationship that’s built on trust too.

Whether you’re the CEO or the middle school kid, when someone approaches you with information that puts them in a state of vulnerability, you’ve got to know they trust you implicitly or they wouldn’t do it. Furthermore, you have a unique responsibility to care for and nurture that person for putting themselves out there. Let me tell ya, there’s not too many people who will do that. So, when you come across those that do, be kind…whether you like what they say or not. Doesn’t matter.

So, how do you build trust? I’m a raving fan of Brene Brown. Her research indicates that trust is built in very small moments. She talks about how you have to share stories and be vulnerable in order to gain trust. For example, your boss asks you, “How’s your mom’s chemo treatments coming along? How’s she feeling?” These types of questions and concerns from our boss makes us feel like we are connected in some way…and that we trust them. We’ve shared a part of ourselves with them, and that connection – that vulnerability – builds trust.

Brown says we have to CHOOSE to connect with people to build trust. I don’t know about you, but choosing to connect at times is so hard. Time is such a precious commodity. How many times have you ignored a phone call from a friend who when you see their name on your screen, you think…”oh man, this is gonna be a long call, and I just don’t have time”? 

I highly encourage you to watch this video when you have 20 minutes…it’s soooo good!

Brown describes how trust is defined as BRAVING: boundaries, reliability, accountability, valut, integrity, non-judgment, and generosity.

What my son and I talked about the other day was the “vault” of trust. When and if this girl approaches him with her feelings, I told him to acknowledge the courage it took for her to say something. I also told him he is to not say a word to anyone else about what she says to him. Not ONE, SINGLE word. Why? It’s absolutely imperative that people see you as someone who can keep confidentiality. As Brown says in her talk, “a lot of times, we share things that are not ours to share.” People need to know that what they tell you in confidence can stay just that…in confidence. 

I know we’ve all had moments at work and in life when trust has been fractured. It happens. But, the next time someone does or says something that underscores a lack of trust, go back to BRAVING. What exactly did that person do to you to fracture that trust? Was it a boundary issue? Were they not reliable? Did they judge you when you were at a weak moment? I believe that taking the time to think through the HOW of trust helps us to better trust ourselves too. 

My son wanted to know the tools…the tips to help make a hard conversation a little easier. He trusted himself enough to know that he didn’t know the words to say. Dang, ya’ll…this is impressive for a 12 year old…just sayin! 

Brown closes her talk by saying, “When it comes to trust, the thing to examine first is how you treat yourself. You can’t ask people to give to us something that we don’t believe we are worthy of receiving. You know you’re worthy of receiving it when you trust yourself above anyone else.”

So, get outside your comfort zone and be vulnerable…and allow yourself to choose to connect. 

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