We hear more and more often that establishing trust is the key to success. Organisations are struggling to find a way to build more trust internally and with external customers.
But what is trust? And why does it matter so much?
Morton Deutsch, one of the founders of conflict resolution, defined it as the: “confidence that an individual will find what is desired from another, rather than what is feared.“
Trust is a human impulse for survival, as well as the driving force that keeps us moving forward in life. It is a major ingredient of the success of any relationship.
Obviously, we can relate to others without trusting them. Many people, for example, don’t trust their boss, and can still have a working relationship with him/her. But, authentic relationships require trust. It involves risk and this means making ourselves vulnerable. It involves believing and expecting others will do things for our wellbeing. It’s not just about having confidence in the other person, but also having confidence in ourselves. It becomes a commitment to interdependence: we take care of others as others take care of us; we choose to work together for a better result.
In the end trust is really about the heart. It shows someone investment in someone else or in something from the heart. When we think of the heart we naturally associate it to desires, love, passion. Asking for trust means we receive also love, passion, desire and it means that to build it, maintaining it and continuously nourish it we need to give that love, passion and desire too.
Without the involvement of the heart we can’t get trust, we only get maybe obedience, or compliance but, not trust.
Think for example when asking your organisation to go through a change, do you involve and connect with people’s heart or just tap into their willpower? Does your team desire from the heart to embrace that change and maybe even lead it or are they only complying because they have to? Your employees might be committed to duties and responsibilities but it is not the same as trust, that is called compliance. Of course, compliance is the minimum “standard” but, that is merely the starting point. That is why we have policies, data, processes, to get and maintain compliance. Unfortunately, compliance and ethics are not enough to become trustworthy. How do we then gain trust? We need three qualities of the heart, which are:
Vulnerability is a word often misunderstood for weakness or lack of power. Brené Brown defines it as the “willingness to show up and be seen by others in the face of uncertain outcomes. There’s not a single act of courage that doesn’t involve vulnerability." Brené also adds that vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change. Being vulnerable means that we are willing to ask questions when we don’t know something; that we can ask for help when we’re struggling; and when things go wrong, that we’re willing to ask for feedback, take accountability and learn from it. It requires ownership of our feelings, attunement to others’ emotional state, willingness to sit in the discomfort. Basically showing vulnerability requires we do not outsmart uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure or hide them behind perfectionism, reasoning, cynicism, numbing or any other form of control.
It sounds weird talking about lack of Connection when we live in the most technologically connected age in the history of civilization, yet rates of loneliness have doubled since the 1980s. Over 40% of adults in America report feeling lonely. MANY EMPLOYEES — AND HALF OF CEOs — REPORT FEELING LONELY IN THEIR ROLES. Gallup research has found that having connections at work makes employees more likely to be engaged with their jobs and produce higher-quality work, and less likely to fall sick or be injured. In my experience people bring the most to their work when they feel connected to the mission and the people around them. The easiest way to connect with others is sharing moments of truth, it is sharing our personal stories. When we know someone’s story we connect and see them. It’s the quality of these connections that matters the most. Quality connections are grounded in love, kindness, compassion, and generosity. Connections develop organically when people feel understood and appreciated as whole individuals: as mothers or fathers, with passions outside of work, with desires to contribute to something bigger. Everyone is more than the role they cover, to genuinely connect with them we need to connect to their whole humanity.
Empathy is recognizing emotions in others, and being able to "put yourself in another person's shoes" – understanding the other person's perspective and reality. To be empathic, we have to think beyond ourselves. Empathy is truly the ability to enter someone's experience and have that person understand we understand them. To be able to feel others’ experience first of all we need to be able to feel and be in touch with our own feelings and experiences. We need to have clear boundaries that allow us to remain connected with others in a way they feel understood and at the same time without losing or isolating ourselves (as a result of too weak or too rigid boundaries). Developing an empathic approach is one of the most significant effort toward improving cooperation, collaboration, and teamwork.
To recap, the benefits of going beyond compliance and reaching trust are:
- Less emphasis on compliance, laws and regulations
- Greater employee satisfaction
- Lower turnover
- Faster decision-making
- Better relationships
- A happier workplace
- Higher profitability
Think about it next time you find yourself asking or wanting to leave the heart outside the workplace claiming it is not professional.