Trust is essential to smooth the wheels of co-operation and working together, whether this is at work or in social circles. I’m sure we all know this and yet too often the circumstances and our habits create conditions where trust is stifled.
As a child were you told not to trust strangers? From this young age we learn to hold back when meeting others. If you hold back, what signals are you sending? “I don’t trust you (yet)”. What do you do when you notice such signals from the other person? You hold back too. This inhibition results in a slow start to building the kind of relationship that encourages sharing, supporting and working effectively together and yet that quality of relationship is precisely what we want.
Think about someone you trust – what is it about them or about your relationship that means you trust them? I expect you’ve known them for a while and have worked together, so you have experience that tells you where /when you can rely on them. With new relationships we need to fast-track building rapport and trust; how can we do this?
SOAR – Sincerity, Openness, Acceptance, Reliability
These are the basic components that need to be present for a trusting relationship. When you behave in this way you will find people are willing to co-operate with you and work with you.
Sincerity – mean what you say. People tend to have well-tuned antennae for picking up artificiality; they spot the mismatch between the words a person utters and their body-language and tone of voice. Playing ‘psychological games’ or ‘bigging yourself up’ will curb collaboration and destroy trust.
Consider also any cross-cultural differences between you and seek to demonstrate your sincerity in a way the other person will understand. Are they from a direct culture such as Holland or Germany? Lots of softening phrases like “This is just a thought” or “Would you mind …?” will be received as doubt and reduce your credibility. But if you spoke too directly to someone from an indirect culture, you could be perceived as domineering.
When the conversation is about the things that matter, say only what you mean with the conviction of sincerity and otherwise be silent, rather than fill the space with nonsense.
Openness – show you are willing to listen, learn and co-operate. When you are open to others, they are likely to be open with you. This means being open-minded to other perspectives, asking questions and listening to their points of view, engaging in dialogue, seeking to learn from each other and giving more than you get. If you value openness, you will continue to be open even if the first reaction from the other person is closed – if you suddenly closed down you would send the wrong signal and the relationship would be slow to develop. You can take the openness one step at a time, you don’t have to jump in with both feet; this will encourage the other person to open up one step at a time too.
Acceptance – acknowledge the other person for who they are, don’t judge them. Especially meeting someone for the first time, you know nothing about them so don’t prejudge them, accept them as they are. Most of us have learnt to quickly assess someone based on their appearance and maybe their job title and company, the trouble with this tactic is that we then behave towards them based on this assessment and they will respond to that behaviour. How many times have you found something out about a person some way down the line and been surprised, changing your mind about them? When a person feels accepted, they will open up to you and the relationship is likely to get off to a good start. The potential in that relationship is far greater than in the assumed situation.
Reliability – deliver on your promises. First you need to make it clear what you are promising to do. Often trust breaks down because one party thought the other was doing something, but they didn’t realise this was expected of them, so don’t do it. In any discussion it is worth making your requests for action clear and making any promises to take action clear. When you say you will do something, then you build a reputation for reliability by doing it. Should something get in the way of that action, tell the person as soon as possible, this allows both of you to rethink the situation and take alternative action.
We have additional challenges to building trust in the global environment with remote working and cultural differences. But if you demonstrate Openness, Acceptance, Sincerity and Reliability in your relationships, you will fast-track building trust. You will reap the rewards of effective working relationships.
Please do comment or pose questions below. If you would like to discuss this topic further please contact Amanda.