T stands for “Trust”

Last week I set the stage for our five part “Mini-series” beginning today that I call “Staying on TRACK” for richer, more fulfilling relationships.

Trust is truly the kingpin when it comes to relationships. When trust is high, decisions are made quickly and easily. When trust is low, business suffers.  I’ve worked with a few clients that for a variety of reasons, had lost the trust of their people. It’s tough to rebuild.

Low trust destroys morale and productivity. It costs an organization in so many ways — poor performance, absenteeism, bad-mouthing to customers, politics, even theft. In low trust organizations, energy is often diverted from the job at hand to “CYA” activities, gossip, frustration and anger. The worst part, I think, is the loss of the employees’ full engagement in the company’s mission. It’s nearly impossible for disengaged employees to engage customers, make them happy, and get them excited to come back.

It takes a long time to rebuild trust.  It’s a slow, cumulative process that involves the deliberate rebuilding of “emotional bank accounts” a little at a time. It’s not for the faint of heart; it requires that you scrutinize your own actions to see how they contribute to the lack of trust.


It also requires discipline, skillful communications, and a balance of strength and compassion to create a safe enough environment where you can “call” people on their contributions to the problem in such a way that they don’t become defensive or shut down. And that means really understanding what their strengths are and calling on those very strengths for a say in a solution. 


While building or rebuilding trust it’s important to let people know what’s going on throughout the process. This means both good news and bad – the news that reflects both well and poorly on the leadership team. It’s important to talk openly and honestly about the health and vitality of the company, the real challenges it faces and how everyone feels about it. 


Building trust is a moment by moment thing. When the other knows we are for-their-good, trust builds naturally and easily. When people know we care about them, they tend to care back.  We build “emotional bank accounts” with each other simultaneously. Shared moments of “Positivity Resonance” build strong connections.  


So “How to build trust?” Here’s my “daily dozen” suggestions:  


  1. Know that it’s okay not to know all the answers right now. Great positive leadership today is more about asking good questions than it is having all the answers.
  1. Communicate frequently about what you are doing as a leadership team to create a Vision of the future – the big picture.
  1. Ask for input on the Vision of the future and allow people to help create it. Minimize fear, encourage faith and realistic optimism.
  1. Connect the big picture to the changes you are making in their everyday world. Tell the truth. People want to know where they are going, why they are asked to do certain things in a certain way, and how their jobs contribute to the organization as a whole. (This point is even more important today than it was years ago. People want to know how the vision contributes to the common good.)
  1. Communicate openly without judgments, blame, cynicism or criticisms. Listen actively. Be sincere. Learn from and admit your mistakes.
  1. Tell the truth kindly, not “brutally.”
  1. Give feedback that is specific and useful. Encourage the heart.
  1. Make good on promises – do what you say you are going to do.
  1. Be as consistent as you can be in your behavior. The more you use your emotional intelligence the more others will feel that you are trustworthy.
  1. Put aside your self-interest for the good of the group. A person who is always self-serving is difficult to trust.
  1. Create a safe environment where people’s feelings count.  When a company and its leaders value people’s feelings, health, self-image, ideas and personal values, people feel safe.  When people are not afraid of being put down or laughed at in front of others, they are more apt to share their ideas and thoughts.

When people believe their input is appreciated they are more apt to participate and contribute. (And they are more likely to be more creative since positive emotion “broadens and builds” the brain activity.)

  1. Actively encourage participation and reinforce it positively. It’s great when you say, “I love it when you_______, it really makes our team rock because ________”

If the trust level in your company is already high, practicing this “daily dozen” will keep it that way. If the level of trust in your company is not quite where it needs to be, using these ideas as an everyday practice will help you rebuild it over time. Trust is essential to healthy, happy relationships.


MORE resources here: www.PositivityPractices.com



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