“Trust men and they will be true to you;
treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
In the movie “Catch Me If You Can” Frank William Abagnale Jr. covers his identity over and over again as he is chased by the FBI. At one point in the ﬁlm, he has fallen in love and revealed his identity to his new ﬁance. In a ﬂuster she begins to panic as they both hear the police knock on the door.
"We can live anywhere we want!" He tells her.
"but you have to trust me, Brenda."
"Do you trust me?"
Trust is a very powerful, and vulnerable, tool. To the character above, his ventures and behavior no longer mattered. At the end of the day what mattered most was trust.
Everything people do is on display. The things we say, our body language, our interactions, they are all visible cues to who we are and how we think. When people behave in a “negative” manner, it is very noticeable. The same is true when people behave in a “positive” manner.
"Sometimes, staff, families etc.,
focus more on controlling a person’s behavior
rather than the relationship component.”
People are complex. Behaviors are our observable actions that allow others to make determinations of “who” we are. It is through behaviors we determine if we “like” someone.
Behaviors are also learned. So while trust is imperative in a relationship, it may not fully guarantee eliminating disruptive, harmful, or illegal behavior. It can be hard for people to get past looking at behavior. Yet that is the key in building strong relationships.
The less we focus on behavior, and the more we focus on building trust, the better our relationships will be. However, if we are looking to replace behavior, trust alone will not instill more appropriate coping skills/behaviors to replace disruptive, harmful, illegal ones.
"By paying less attention to behavior, we may actually be encouraging behaviors.”
This notion extends to all people, of all backgrounds and abilities. Yet keep in mind each person is unique. We all have detailed backgrounds, we are all speciﬁc. Behaviors can be replaced through sound behavioral management.
The question, then, we must always ask ourselves is “In what ways can I work on building trust with this speciﬁc person?” And then “What person speciﬁc techniques can be utilized in replacing the behavior?”
*Want to know more about behavioral modiﬁcation? Here is a good start.
By Geries Shaheen
Co-author: JoAnn Becker
About the Author
Geries Shaheen is the team leader at Support Innovations WestCentre. He graduated from Lincoln Christian University and is currently pursuing a master’s degree from Lindenwood University. Follow Support Innovations Here
JoAnn Becker is the associate director at Support Innovations.
Support Innovations is an adult day service designed for people with developmental disabilities located in St. Louis Missouri. For more information on Person- Centered philosophy, and how it is being implemented at Support Innovations Centres, feel free to
contact us via website, email, or Facebook.