What is trust? It is the foundation of all human relationships. If there is no trust, words—and sometimes even deeds—mean nothing.

According to the dictionary, trust means “reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing.” But how do you trust someone you don’t know?

I remember the day I met His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The instant I entered the room I could feel his presence radiate and create total trust—a trust that was completely unrelated to anything I knew about his history or character.

How does this happen?

Think about entering a store to buy something. How does trust happen? The storekeeper gives you space. When she talks to you, she makes eye contact. She listens more than she talks. She takes time with you and is not rushed. She feels confident in her product while admitting it isn’t for everyone. She is interested in your needs, yet leaves you space to decide.

Sometimes trust takes time to build, but often trust happens immediately—or doesn’t. We’ve all had experiences where we trust a person the instant we meet, although we’d never met before.

How do we trust others? We trust others by the quality of their presence, their ability and willingness to focus in the moment and connect with those who are present—themselves and others.

Lack of trust, on the other hand, is a reaction to a past experience or a future expectation. When there is lack of trust, you feel the other person has an agenda, and you go into fear or protection mode. For example, it is difficult to trust someone who is needy.

Trusting also becomes more difficult when you feel needy. Feeling whole is a prerequisite for trust. When you trust, you come from a place of plenty, not a place of lack.

In order for others to trust you, you need to trust yourself.

Do you trust yourself? Do you feel connected to your true nature as a human? Do you feel connected to others? Do you speak and act from that place of deep connection? Do you have a practice that helps you come back to yourself after you have been distracted, off center, stressed or in crisis?

If you’d like others to trust you, ask yourself what makes trust happen inside yourself.

How present can you be when go about your business? Are you busy and rushed, or are you listening? Are you focused on your agenda, or are you open in the moment?

Albert Einstein once commented that the most fundamental decision we ever make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe. In other words, trust is a decision, a choice to be open to what is. Be present, “be here now,” and watch trust happen...

DR. JOSEPHINE GROSS is Cofounder and Editor in Chief of Networking Times.