Interpersonal trust affects virtually every part of social functioning in our personal lives, spreading widely into our communities. It has a profound effect on individuals mental and physical health, personal and societal opportunities, economic growth and ultimately the function of our entire society as a whole. But what is interpersonal trust and why is it so important for us?
Interpersonal trust relates to the relationship or the communication between people. Lack of communication, or interaction between individuals, separates us from others. Separation can bring feelings of mistrust, from our own ignorance and without the ability or opportunity to interact and gain the knowledge of others, individuals can fall into a cycle of fearing the unknown. Consequently, becoming separated and even lonely within their own community.
The after effect of this is the decrease of the amount of opportunities, depending on each individual. For example, this could be job opportunities. There are often hundreds of job opportunities within reach for anyone in a local community but a lack of acquaintance with your neighbours, or isolation, can leave people hopeless and stressed. This is why interpersonal trust can be so important to develop within a community, because it is the foundations on which a community stands and with a lack of it, a community will struggle to grow together.
Let’s explore the five different stages on which interpersonal trust can grow sustainably within individuals, and therefore the community as a whole.
Familiarity relates to the close acquaintance with or knowledge of something. In regards to familiarity in a local community, you will usually observe this in people who make the effort to make small interactions between their neighbours. This could be a simple good morning, or a smile, or a short conversation about the weather, which people tend to begin to recognise individuals and remember faces. You now have the knowledge that this person exists and now to move further, we need to interact more.
Communication relates to the imparting or exchanging of information, which could be by speaking, writing or some other medium. To be able to gain knowledge and a deeper understanding of the individuals you are now familiar with, we must increase the communication. This is where potentially neighbours might exchange numbers and continue to interact regularly when they are exposed to each other. With more familiarity and exposure to the same individual, grows the confidence to communicate and exchange information between each other, leading to a deeper bond between two or more people. Building acquaintances with your neighbours, interacting and communicating with them on a regular basis is the next step in achieving interpersonal trust.
To be continued..... (Read on for part 2 of this essay by clicking this link)
Written by Sophie for Workisty