We’ve arrived at the end of the Braving the Holidays series with five days to spare before the new year. Hint: There’s still an opportunity to practice!

The G in braving stands for generosity. 

No, this is NOT about last-minute donations to not-for-profit organizations, although those are good things too. Nor is this about evaluating whether the people in your life were generous with you for Christmas.

How generosity builds trust

The generosity that helps us build trust is about how we interpret the actions, words, and intentions of the people around us. The simple question is this: Did I offer the most generous interpretation possible?

When I started asking myself this question, I began to see how often we humans immediately go to the “doom and gloom” or worst case scenario. Perhaps an example will help.

You didn’t get a Christmas card from your college roommate this year. No, this isn’t a personal example. Just a common example. Instead of going down the rabbit hole that s/he is made a you, consider this. What if…

  • s/he’s sending New Years Cards?
  • s/he didn’t have time to even think about cards this year?
  • it’s still in the mail?
  • s/he’s been caring for a family member sick with COVID-19
  • it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the year that we call 2020?

Offer the most generous interpretation

You could likely add 10 more ideas to that list. My point is this: when we offer the most generous interpretation possible, it’s about being kind to others. At another time, I’ll share the difference between being nice and being kind. For now, suffice it to say, kindness is a choice of intentions. 

If you make a generous interpretation of the situation, what begins to happen? Often, like the above circumstance, you begin to see it’s not about you. Instead, you might begin to be concerned about your college roommate. 

  • You might check in to see how they’re doing. 
  • Or, you might find a silly card online and make a joke about your own card sending.
  • Perhaps, you simply let it go and check-in when 2021 gets underway. 

As you think about building and maintaining trust with the people around you, this final element can change how and whom you trust. It can also change your perspective. 

A Caveat

One final note about generosity. Making the most generous interpretation of someone’s intentions, words, or actions is about trust. This does not apply to situations of abuse or neglect. Trust, as you’ve experienced from these seven posts, is a relationship. In situations of abuse or neglect, there is power at play that is causing harm. Reach out for help to a trusted person in your life. 

Recap of Braving

As I conclude this series, let me once again remind you of the seven elements of trust:

You can find short blog posts about each of these elements of trust on the blog. If you want to practice helping the people you lead talk about these elements with one another, reach out to me. I regularly facilitate conversations one on one and with groups – even in a virtual world! 

Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy 2021! Thanks for braving the holidays with me.