The trust-based relationships established and maintained in A Continuum of Support in the Haut-Saint-François form a chain that is only as strong as its weakest link. That is why it is important to provide all necessary care and consistency.
To build trust-based relationships, mutuality is required at all levels:
- Mutual trust-based relationship with the person progressing towards integration.
- Mutual trust-based relationships between partners.
This section, Trust-based Relationships, offers a few landmarks for these two levels.
During the consultations and forums in 2010-2014, the partners involved in the Spirit of Continuum Haut-Saint-François raised some concerns or difficulties regarding the relationship of trust that one develops with persons who are progressing toward integration. As reference for further reflection or to help orient concerted action, here’s the gist of these concerns:
Accompanying a person on their journey toward inclusion can hardly be successful if the person you want to help does not trust the person who wants to help them. Also, a volunteer or a professional can hardly be relevant and effective if he/she doesn’t have a certain level of confidence in the person being accompanied.
In fact, being completely objective would be an illusion. Each of us, without really wanting to, works with a number of prejudices and ideas not based on facts. This is human. The challenge is to succeed in recognizing our preconceptions so we can better go beyond them. To encounter a person with respect means to try to discover the person as much in their potential as in their weaknesses. Not as we imagine them to be, but as they are.
Thus, certain conditions favour a relationship of trust or a helping relationship. Carl R. Rogers proposed eight (8) essential characteristics:
- Be aware of your own feelings;
- Let yourself have positive feelings towards the person;
- Remain a separate person; let the other person be independent of you;
- Be empathic;
- Accept the other person as they are;
- Avoid intimidating the other person;
- See the other person as someone in evolution;
- Refrain from evaluating and judging.
Confidence is built on respect for the privacy of the person in the relationship. Respect for those who confide in you is fundamental to building a relationship of trust. Even if we are not all bound by professional secrecy, we have a duty to practice discretion.
Between 2010 and 2014, the partners involved in the Spirit of Continuum Haut-Saint-Françoismet together on several occasions in forums or during consultations. These meetings served to obtain their views on what allows them to have confidence, what would help them have more confidence and what prevents them from trusting. Here is what the partners said:
What allows us to have confidence
Among partners, knowing each other well positively influences the degree of confidence.
It is advantageous to:
- Know the respective missions and practices;
- Know the services offered by a partner organization;
- Be able to put a face on a phone number or an email address.
Also, the reputation of the organization or person providing a service may influence the degree of confidence. The reputation may be based on certain aspects:
- Understanding the partner’s expertise;
- Knowing the limitations within which the partner works;
- Knowing the results the partner has obtained;
- Understanding how partners’ services complement each other;
- Positive feedback from persons referred to different partners.
Other aspects can contribute to establishing and maintaining trust between partners. For example:
- Consistency in what different partners say;
- The commitment and values of the partner organization;
- A person’s interpersonal skills: Simplicity, respect in the context of differences, and a non-judgemental approach;
- A person’s know-how: A warm approach focused on the individual, an ability to express remarks in a way that is popularly understood, a capacity for appreciation (focus on positive points), and an ability to respond quickly to needs.
What would help to instill more confidence
- The dynamism of the Continuum network: close consultation, with exchange meetings and shared tools for Welcome / Reference / Follow-up;
- Personalization of services: addressed to humans and not to a program;
- Openness and rigor in the follow-up;
- Continuity of projects and actions at the end of a project grant;
- Visiting organizations in order to better understand their realities, services and personnel.
What inhibits confidence
- Resistance to change;
- Lack of interpersonal skills and know-how;
- Opportunistic attitudes such as putting personal interests before those of the organization, as well as putting corporate interests before the common good.