How many of you have felt the loss or crack in a relationship due to a breach in trust? We aren’t perfect. As learning humans, we can’t be expected to be. However, in trusting relationships – ones where we seek to see, hear, and understand others and feel seen, heard and understood – there is the ‘safe space’ to make mistakes and learn to build stronger relationships. When that foundation is lacking, relationships fall as quickly as they form.
In our hyper connected and hyper transparent world, how we build relationships is now more important than it has ever been. Due to advances in technology, our world is getting smaller, our expectations larger and trust in ourselves, and others, is now more valuable than ever before.
According to Dove Seidman, founder and CEO of LRN (an organization that has helped some of the world’s most respected companies build “do it right”), we live in a time when trust is the currency of the age. “Trust is more valuable than ever before, so you should produce a lot of it. Those who can engender and wield more trust will win”. (HOW: Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything, 2007. p170). It makes sense. Trust is the foundation of building a relationship. Cultures thrive when trust is valued. Organizations that trust their employees in turn receive trust from employees, clients and customers – encouraging courage to take risks and build collaboration which lead to enhanced productivity and innovation. When an employee feels trusted, they are prepared to take those risks without fear of being judged for being wrong. This leads to innovation. Families that trust their members are closer, happier, and healthier. Communities that trust one another thrive in ways never thought possible. Without the possibility of trust, how can you build a healthy relationship?
With our general focus pulled away from WHAT organizations and people do, to HOW they are doing it, the value of trust is more important now than it’s ever been before. If organizations don’t operate with trust, they become less desirable to invest in. The same is true for people. Individuals who don’t operate congruently or with trust, in our connected/ transparent world, suffer large consequences: loss of relationships, allies, clients, jobs, community, friends, family and reputation. So, if it’s that important, how do we build and sustain it?
Based on our experience, we have learned that trust is built by engaging others so they feel seen, heard and understood and vise versa. When we are able to be open and curious to hear what one has to say and understand their perspective, without judgment or criticism, and honor that person for their perspective, we see them for who they are and begin to build trust.
What happens then when we don’t take the time to hear others and understand their perspective? With less face time in conversations and more screen time with emails, text, and social media, it’s easy to make assumptions and take things out of context. When people start to feel a lack of trust in others they tend to retreat away and work in isolation, not a great way to build healthy relationships.
Today, I read an interesting article “Let’s Be Honest, We’re All Liars” by Paul Spector, M.D. presented by a TED and Huffington Post collaboration. In the article he delves into how our perception of the truth may not be as accurate as what we think, how our brain works and the lenses we use to represent our “truth” are not as simple as we may believe. With trust and building relationships on the mind I was intrigued. At the end of his article Spector concludes with:
“In closing I want to highlight something that may seem so basic it could get lost in this discussion. Most experts agree on the motives for lying: avoid punishment, win admiration, avoid embarrassment, exert power. Perhaps an exploration of how our institutions unwittingly foster a culture that promotes these motives would be a good place to start in an attempt to reduce dishonesty.”
Clearly trust and honesty go hand in hand and we now live in a world that has been proven by many that trust is the greatest currency in the land. Yet we are still seeing in many organizations, communities and families this is not the case. When we take the time to see, hear and understand others, truly listen to their perspective and not focus on “right/ wrong” judgments, the motives for lying extinguish and the building of trust begins.
How are you building your currency? How “rich” are you in trust?
How to put the US in TRUST:
- LISTEN: We know, it’s always the first step we suggest, and for good reason! We have learned it is a skill most of us take for granted and struggle to do successfully. Listening to others without judgment and criticism, just simply listening to learn, will build trust in a relationship. What are you curious to learn about this person or situation?
- BE OPEN TO NEW PERSPECTIVES: You don’t have to agree with everything everyone says; however, being open to hearing others’ perspectives is a huge opportunity to learn more about a person, situation or solution. Asking open questions allows the opportunity to learn more about others perspectives. Not totally getting where the person is coming from – “tell me more” is a great way to hear more and gain clarity.
- TEST ASSUMPTIONS: From our experience, when an assumption is made, it is typically NOT what we assumed it to be. Take the time to gain clarity and test your assumptions. It’s amazing what you will learn and how this can lead to much stronger relationships.
- BE CONGRUENT: Say what you mean and mean what you say. Our world is changing and is now more transparent than ever. Those who are not congruent in their messaging find it difficult to cultivate trust with those around them. People see right through them! Organizations are now realizing the importance of transparency and being congruent in today’s marketplace to build trust with its clients, investors, and customers. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
- ACCOUNTABILITY: Be accountable for your actions. When things don’t go as planned, take the opportunity to reframe the situation and look at it differently. Ask questions and be open and curious to learn from it. People and organizations, able to take responsibility for their actions and learn from their mistakes build trust with others and cultivate stronger relationships. Their new learning often leads to collaboration and innovation never before considered. In our new hyper connect/ transparent world with social media, those who don’t hold themselves accountable get left behind with an untrustworthy reputation permanently written in the ether that will follow them forever.
Trust is the currency of the age. We are curious to know how you are building yours?
We invite you to reflect on how you are building your relationships?
What values are most important to you?