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changing environment By Janice Cohen and Kym Dakin-Neal Does this sound like your workplace? You begin work in front of a computer screen, and you stay there the better part of eight hours. Anyone you need to transact with can be contacted, informed, negotiated with, and finessed to a satisfactory conclusion completely online. You transact for materials, develop new programs/products/services, hire new employees and research potential markets with people you’ve never met, know or trust. Sound strange and weird? That’s because most of us wouldn't choose to work this way even if we could. We are first and foremost social animals who want to do business, build business, transact business, and certainly, hire for our business– with human beings with whom we trust. To trust or not to trust is a decision we make many times in a day. Trust affects every aspect of our lives. Each time we make a decision to trust or not, it affects how we relate to another human being, what we buy, how we do our work, and who we spend our time with. In the workplace trust is often a qualifier for whom we’ll work with, share information with, assign to a task or project, or recommend for a promotion. It is impossible for us to be successful at work if we are not trusted and don’t trust others. Yet, we are, in fact, facing a trust crisis. Why is the Need for Trust Increasing? The traditional foundation on which trust is developed, time and exposure, is eroding. Our interactions with others are often transitory. We work in teams that are formed around a specific project with a limited time frame. We partner with external parties that occupy only a name and title in our knowledge base. We do not have the time to gain personal knowledge of those we interact with before we have to make “trust” decisions. Yet, in this environment the expectations for high performance have increased. The resulting anxiety caused by demands for quality work in a non-trusting environment negatively influences productivity and creativity. Over time we become less able to take risks, and have only limited access to our highest capabilities. Traditionally, in a culture of low trust we rely on power and control to get things done. We replace trust of others with control of information, access, and resources. These techniques to maintain control take increased effort, time and attention. Additionally, the development of the internet has made these types of controls obsolete. Integrity,
therefore, becomes critical. If everyone has equal access to information, then how that information is used by individuals is the most important issue. Without control of the information on how to build a homemade bomb, we are left with trusting that most people don’t want to build a bomb. Anytime an organization tries to control information, the greater the chance of leaks resulting in damaging disclosures, an eroded reputation, and diminished organizational trust. Without controls there is an increasing need for trust. What is the Cost of Distrust? “Rules cannot take the place of character.’ Alan Greenspan Control is not only ineffective; it is extremely costly and inefficient. In place of trust, we find ourselves relegated to: • creating policies, rules, contracts • monitoring behavior and actions • duplicating and/or redoing • controlling information • contesting legally and informally • blaming and • avoiding Each of these behaviors and actions reduces efficiency, adds to our costs and decreases the commitment of others to participate in achieving better results. According to Professor John Whitney of Columbia Business School: "Mistrust doubles the cost of doing business." Stephen M.R. Covey in his book, Speed of Trust, discusses trust as either a trust tax or trust dividend. What we all wish for is to work in an organization with a high trust culture or trust dividend. What we are often getting is a trust tax. If trust is so important, what makes it so difficult? “Self-trust is the first secret of success… the essence of heroism.” Ralph Waldo Emerson Trust is primarily personal. We cannot trust another until we can trust ourselves. Self-knowledge is a prerequisite to behaving consistently and in alignment with one’s own values, beliefs and motivations. The complaint he or she doesn’t walk the talk is common and unfortunately often at the root of distrust. Fortunately, we have both the time and exposure to know ourselves and therefore the opportunity to develop self-trust
Integrity is another cornerstone of trust that also begins with oneself. Yet, we often judge the integrity of others before reflecting on our own. Ask whether you follow through on commitments to yourself – to exercise, to be on time, to contact a friend or relative, to save money. When we doubt our ability to follow through on our commitments to ourselves and others, we project that distrust onto others, and question their integrity. Trust does not exist without integrity of self. Self-trust also depends on knowing our capabilities and limitations and taking responsibility for them. To be self-responsible requires embracing oneself as a whole person. When we trust ourselves, we can accept our mistakes and acknowledge our accomplishments. Nothing destroys trust more quickly than blaming others for our actions or behavior, or taking credit for what is not ours. When we are self-accepting we can be full partners, not needing others to assume responsibility for our actions or behavior. Self-knowing and the resulting self-trust enable us to be transparent with others. When relating to others self-trust means that we do not have to wear another persona because we do not trust how our own will be received. We can appropriately share personal information that builds a connection between our authentic self and others. Transparency, however, does not require a business transaction to include sharing one’s life history to build a trusting relationship. Clarifying one’s goals, motivations, intent, and values can provide the information necessary to create a platform of trust in any relationship. Developing self-trust by knowing our capabilities and limitations, behaving with integrity, and being self-responsible and selftransparent are conditions for creating trusting relationships. When we trust ourselves, we can be authentic and transparent, creative contributors, take necessary risks, and engage others to help accomplish goals. What are the Skills Needed to Build Trust on the Run? “I try to treat people as human beings… If they know you care, it brings out the best in them.” Sir Richard Branson Deep Listening - From the time we are in kindergarten we are encouraged to “listen”. But as we learn over time, listening can be very difficult. Not only do we listen for what we want to hear, we
listen through our own lens of experience, beliefs and values. From this place we hear what fits into the world that we know. Unfortunately, it is seldom the same world as the person who is speaking. According to Covey, building trust requires active listening – a deeper listening than we are perhaps accustomed to in our day to day interactions. In “listening to build trust” we listen between the lines – we pay attention not only to the content of what is being said, but how the information is being conveyed, and how we are being affected by it. Noticing what we hear when we are listening can be a clue to how receptive we are to what is being said. Deep listening often requires us to pause before we can respond to what has been shared. Our response needs to come from the other person’s meaning, not from our meaning. As we listen deeply we may not understand the meaning of everything that is being shared by the speaker. We can, however, gain insight by being actively curious and genuinely wanting to understand another’s perspective. Open-ended questions, questions that enhance our understanding, will communicate our openness and receptivity to what is being said. Our authentic desire to understand creates a connection with the speaker that can be trusted. Authentic Speaking -While deep listening is critical to building trust, it must be accompanied by authentic speaking. How willing are we to speak with honesty and clarity when relating to people with whom we have yet to build a trusting relationship? Do we check to assure that our honest speech is mutually beneficial; i.e., we both have something to gain from what is being said? If there is any doubt about that, then those doubts will translate into an erosion of trust. We can know we are speaking to build connection by noticing if our emotions as well as our minds are engaged in communicating. When we speak authentically, what we share is honest, meaningful to the listener, aligned with our own knowing, and supportive of building a trusting relationship. Relational transparency, the ability to communicate genuineness and congruence, necessitates both a desire and capacity for relating to others and requires us to be energetically present. Although this may seem unattainable in a multi-tasking world, it is the only space where trust can be created. To be present means that our physical, mental and emotional being is engaged. We can easily destroy trust by offering to be physically present in a situation, but otherwise absent. This lack of presence is usually noticed and becomes a barrier to trust. By being present our work with others not only builds trust, but also gains both quality and speed.
These skills - listening deeply, speaking authentically and being present do not require enormous expenditures of time but they do require focus and intent. They do not require trust, they build trust. The trust dividends that they create are well worth the effort. Can you imagine putting these skills into action at your place of work? My life is an Indivisible Whole, and all my activities run into one another… My life is my message.” Mahatma Gandhi
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