Trust, Part 1: The Most Powerful Connection

Published On: April 13, 2016Categories: Blog

Trust, Part 1: The Most Powerful Connection

Some FISH! Phil-osophy thoughts from our own Phil Strand, co-author of FISH! Tales and Schools of FISH!:

When I ask people what they want more of at work, trust is usually at the top of the list.

The dictionary defines trust as being able to rely on others—their actions, abilities and character. It means we can predict with reasonable accuracy how people are likely to respond in a given situation.

But trust goes deeper than the ability to make safe bets about people’s behavior. When you trust, you are placing yourself in someone else’s hands. You are vulnerable, often emotionally as much as physically. Nothing stings quite so much as feeling someone has betrayed your trust. On the other hand nothing unites people—in marriage, friendship, teamwork—as much as trust. That’s why, as George MacDonald said, “To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.”

So how can you increase trust—as a colleague, leader or friend—using The FISH! Philosophy?

Be There
Being there doesn’t always take much time, but it always takes commitment. People may not need you every moment, but when they do, they need all of you. Your willingness to listen without judgment and follow through on what you’ve learned is key to trust.

When you mess up on a commitment, an apology can start to repair trust, but repeated apologies, without follow-through, signal that you are not really serious about strengthening trust.

Choose Your Attitude
How do you respond to mistakes? How do you deal with disagreements? The saying is old but the lesson is always new: Trust takes a long time to build but can be destroyed in a few seconds. Think first: Is the reaction or criticism you are about to unleash worth more than the relationship that will be affected by it?

Make Their Day
Say you receive a gift or award from someone who otherwise expends little effort getting to know or acknowledge you. You may value the thing you received, but you’re no more likely to trust the person than you did before.

Make Their Day is most meaningful when it focuses on building relationships rather than just giving things. Simple gestures go a long way: Show people how much you value them. Notice who they are and thank them for what they do. Ask people what they think and really listen to their ideas. Encourage people.

Gifts and awards are nice, but they are more meaningful when they affirm the appreciation you are already demonstrating.

It’s impossible to have a playful, enthusiastic culture without trust. If people don’t feel safe, they will avoid doing anything that might get them into trouble. Instead of serving others in a lighthearted, genuine, “be yourself” way, they will serve in a way that’s robotic, scripted and by the numbers. They won’t be proactive in considering new ideas and look for solutions.

Be clear about what you are trying to achieve as a team and the values you want to live by. Once you know what your “playing field” is, give people freedom to play within the boundaries of that field in a way that trusts them and stretches their creativity.

In my next post, I’ll reveal the one simple step that builds trust.

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