Published: January 23, 2009
Jennifer Selby Long, Selby Group
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The Unexpected Way to Build Trust, Confidence, and Interaction

Two weeks ago on my blog, I posted a list of top ten best practices in current economic conditions. Today I'm going to dive a little deeper into the third, from an unexpected angle. On the chance you haven't memorized the list just yet, the third item is, "Daily efforts to build trust, confidence, and interaction with employees."

I've chosen this because this economy calls for a fresh approach, not just the obvious and tired methods of interacting with employees. The best leaders are also grappling daily with the powerful human need for authenticity, to have complete integrity between who you are on the inside and what you do on the outside.

This wave of expanding conscientiousness (or consciousness, for those who are more spiritually-oriented) will continue and, I believe it is the beginning of a massive global transition, not just a trend triggered by the financial meltdown.

As such, leaders are rightly questioning their tried and true "corporate" methods of connecting with others and are searching for more open and authentic ways to communicate. It's time to look around you, think through your own experiences, and create authentic and fresh ways to build trusting relationships and stay connected.

A client of mine did just that. Although in this example she was the employee reaching out to her former boss, notice the authentic and unconventional subject matter, and consider how you might also communicate in an authentic way for you, in all of your working relationships.

Several years ago, this client was going through an emotionally gut-wrenching time. At the time that she started her new job, although no one could see this from the outside, she was emotionally wrung out, untrusting, and taking anti-depressants to help her cope with her day-to-day feelings.

Her new boss was perhaps the most objective individual she had ever met, and he certainly wouldn't have passed any "warm and fuzzy" test with flying colors. She noticed throughout the years that she worked for him that he most genuinely didn't see anyone's color, gender, ethnicity, or age. He was not dramatic. He was certainly not exciting. He only saw results or lack of results.

My client is excellent at producing results, and her boss' objectivity, stability, and consistency created the perfect environment for her to recover and get back on her feet. She excelled.

Shaking HandsShe recently realized that he had no idea the difference he had made in her career and her life. Their career paths had moved them into different industries, so she realized that if she didn't make it a priority, he would never know.

She booked an appointment and came to see him in his new business, where she told him the story of what she had been going through when she first worked for him, and thanked him for creating the perfect environment for her to recover and become the leader she is today.

As he is so outwardly unemotional, it took a lot of courage for her to directly tell him this. He was surprised and happy. She just wanted him to know what he had done, what a difference it made, and how much she appreciated it.

As she told me, "Thank the people who've made a difference. It's good karma." We could use some good karma. Who has made a difference in your business? In particular, how has your team made a difference? Have you thanked them from a place of genuine appreciation? Giving them a raise doesn't count. Use words, too! Make the effort.

If this particular way of communicating just doesn't feel authentic for you, spend some time determining a way that does feel authentic. It doesn't cost a dime, and especially if you're usually not expressive, it will go a long way toward building trust, confidence, and interaction with your employees and everyone else.


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