Wednesday, January 07, 2004

1qtr2004 - Feature Article: On Building Trust, Rapport, and Respect

Know this: Trust is EVERYTHING. A person who trusts you will work incredibly hard on your behalf. Conversely, a person who doesn't, won't. It's also important to understand that having organizational authority over someone is NOT the same as having them trust you - formal authority does not guarantee someone's trust in you. In fact, it often impedes the trust-building process.

People will usually comply with authority because the boss has the organizational power to take actions against them if they don't. But mere compliance is not trust because in the 'moments of truth' when people selectively choose whether or not to give you the benefit of the doubt, your ultimate success will be determined by how much they actually DO trust you.

So in very real terms, your trustworthiness will be put to the test - early and often. And it's a complex, and heavily layered test, at that:
  • Trust is not just Credibility - You can be very credible, that is, have people believe your data is accurate and your information useful. And while it's important that you ARE credible, what you DO with the facts plays an even larger role in your trustworthiness.
  • Trust is not just Responsiveness - Yes being responsive does help, but not if you're only providing meaningless, albeit timely, replies to the important questions being asked of you. Similarly, direct reports may jump through hoops for you, but if their motivation is based on fear, that's not trust either.
  • Trust is not just Perceptions - Managing perceptions is about who you're trying to be and what you want others to believe you to already be. But Trust comes from people seeing you as you really are - especially when you don't know they're watching.

To further complicate things, not everyone defines trust the same way. So to better understand exactly what trust is about let's start by looking at some people you trust already. Pick five of them - choose a mix of direct reports, family members, vendor contacts, children, etc. Talk with each one and ask, among other things, the following questions:

  • How do you define trust?
  • How do you go about earning someone's trust?
  • How do you decide if someone is trustworthy?
  • How is trust lost?
  • What happens when trust is lost?
  • Who are some people you trust, and why?
  • Who are some people who trust you, and why?

Now repeat the process with people you don't trust - not people you distrust, but people you don't know well enough yet to trust, or not - salespeople calling on you for the first or second time, someone you're sitting next to on a plane or at a dinner party; people like that. Ask a handful of them those same questions.

You'll be surprised how refreshing - and insightful - conversations like that can be. And you'll be well on your way to better understanding what Trust really means to others and, more even importantly, how you can best demonstrate your ongoing trustworthiness to the people you work with on an ongoing basis.


1qtr2004 - Ask the Coach: Better Un-Shyness

Question: I'm too much of an introvert. I know I need to network more, and interact with more people, but I'm just so shy. What can I do to become more outgoing?

Answer: You may not realize this, but only 5% of the population says they've never struggled with shyness. So don't feel like you're alone - the vast majority of people want to be more extroverted, too. And while you CAN be shy, my guess is you can also be incredibly outgoing, engaging, and enthusiastic, at times, too. It just depends on circumstances. Need proof? Just go ask some colleagues and/or friends what they think. Chances are good that they'll have plenty of examples of how you're anything but shy. Chances are good that this will be the easiest thing anyone asked them about in a very long time. You? Shy?!

We all have a tendency to make up rules about who we are and what we are (and are not) capable of. Sometimes the rules we make up, though, are very, very wrong or no longer serve us as they once did. So next time you're feeling shy, remember the times when you WEREN'T shy, and go be your outgoing, engaging, and enthusiastic self. Instead of labeling yourself as "usually shy", label yourself as "sometimes wonderfully outgoing and personable". You'll thank yourself for it. And who knows, in doing so, you might just inspire someone else to be a little more courageous that they thought they could be, too.

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1atr2004 - Great Things I Didn't Say!

  • "Much of the stress that people feel doesn't come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they've started." - David Allen
  • "Treat your friends as you do your pictures, and place them in their best light." - Jennie Jerome Churchill
  • "We all carry around someone else who's bursting to get out of us." - Angus Young
  • "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude." - Maya Angelou
  • "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." - Jack London
  • "As a final incentive before giving up a difficult task, try to imagine it successfully accomplished by someone you violently dislike." - K. Zenios