Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Trust in the Time of Trump

This is neither a rant against Trump nor is it a pro-Trump article. As a trusted expert, I want to understand why he was trusted with the highest office in the most powerful nation on earth. This is my perspective of why people voted for him. If you have been following my articles, you know I have said truth telling isn't part of my trust model. Truth can be very subjective, and your truth may not be Trump's or even mine. (Full disclosure - and this shouldn't be a surprise to anyone - if I could have voted in this election, I would have voted for Clinton.)

Many people who voted for Trump were disenfranchised and did not feel Washington understood them. I have heard again and again that change needed to happen, and Trump could be trusted to disrupt and change the status quo. When you have not felt heard or represented, and someone comes along who gives voice to your anger and frustration, the trust level goes up. How can you believe you are cared for when, year after year, you see your life and standard of living going down? He wasn’t a groomed and slick politician who spoke in condescending platitudes. He was earnest and raw, and whether you agreed with him or not, people who voted for him felt he cared for America and cared for them. That is the first C - caring - in my 5 C Trust Model. People who voted for him believe he cares.

With unflagging energy, we saw a man who did not back down. Again, whether you agreed with him or not, he was out, front and center, committed to winning the election. He has said he will bring that same level of commitment - the second C of trust - to his presidency.

“I will make America great again. I will build a wall. I am strong; other politicians are weak. I am the only one who can make things better.” He was always consistent about bringing about change. Over and over again we heard a consistent message. Consistency is the third C.

The Trump brand is around the world and is associated with class and power. When people were asked why they would vote for him, many pointed to his ability to build a billion dollar business. His competence - the fourth C - and the belief that he ran a successful business resulting in his money and power made them trust him. I’m not saying he will be a competent President. That has yet to be seen, but he is perceived to have a high level of competence in running his empire.

The final and fifth C is communication. From Twitter communications at 3am to calling into radio shows to give his opinion, Trump communicated. At his rallies, people felt that he was talking directly to them, not at them. While his rivals were spending millions on advertising, he knew he could turn the focus of the media to talk about him without spending a cent.

When I was having a conversation with a friend and told her I was going to write about Trump and trust, she looked at me in disbelief. “But he can't be trusted - I will never trust him,” she said. “How can you write trust and Trump in the same line?"

I hope this helps her to understand how he was trusted. Now is a time for healing, and trusting that good people used their best intention to vote for what and whom they believed in.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

When being Right can be Wrong for Building Trust

Did you know most motorcycle accidents aren't the fault of the motorcycle driver? Two thirds of all motorcycle fatalities are caused by the car driver. The car driver's usual response is they just didn't see the motorcycle until it was too late. The motorcycle driver might have been right, but how did that help the situation?

What does all of this have to do with trust? So often we want to hang our hat on being right. Just like the motorcycle accident, being right doesn't help you if the outcome is catastrophic and you can't count on being right to save you.

You need to go beyond being right, and use empathy and observation to get the outcome you want. You have to separate impact from intent. We judge others by their impact, but ourselves by our intent. It should be switched around.

Trust isn't about being right. Get that out of your head. It's based on being open and vulnerable, and having positive expectations about another's behavior. It's been awhile since we talked about the 5 C's of trust, so here they are again as a reminder.

People will trust and support you if they know you truly care about them. Caring can show up in how you connect with others. Caring leaders give credit to their employees and challenge them to reach new levels. When we care, we lead with the heart and the head. What does care look and sound like to you?

Showing up is an essential part of commitment. It means bringing energy and initiative to the job. It means staying on course and doing what you say you will do long after the time has passed when you first said it. Keep your commitments no matter how small or large. When you can't keep a commitment, you have to communicate and ask to be released from it.

Consistent leaders evaluate themselves and make sure their words and actions are congruent. Are you congruent? Everyone has off days so, if you do fly off the handle, circle back and take ownership of the inconsistency. Imagine a politician who bases his platform on being open and approachable, and won't listen or attend meetings. Make sure you are congruent. Decide what your values are and use them to make decisions. It will help to guide you and keep you constant.

People will question your competence if they don't see it in action. When people can see that you know what you are doing, they extend trust. Your competence is developed through experience and requires work. Don't be satisfied with mediocre. Be the best you can be. Keep your skills fresh by being a lifelong learner and listener.

Communication is an exchange of information. You aren't communicating until the other person understands what you are saying. Using the trust framework refers to being able to communicate in a caring, committed, consistent and competent way. The Mehrabian model of communication includes verbal, vocal and visual communication.
  • Can we use words that show we care, and are committed, consistent and competent? (verbal)
  • Do we show through our actions and body language each of the four competencies? (visual)
  • Does our tone show each of the four competencies? For example, if we say we care, does our tone demonstrate this? (vocal)
Insisting on being right isn't going to bring more trust into your life. Instead, work on building trust by seeing what is right in others.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Truth Telling isn't Part of Trust (But it's not OK to Lie)

I’ve often seen people mistake opinions or beliefs for truth telling. If truth is based on verifiable facts, we can determine it is true by researching the evidence.

A fact that can be checked out would be: as of 2013, there have been 57 female astronauts compared to 477 male astronauts.

Where it falls off the rails is when people make a judgment based on facts, such as women are discriminated against in the astronaut program. It may be true based on the facts but we can’t be sure. It is an opinion.

Often we trust people who share similar beliefs. Unlike an opinion, a belief is based on a person’s values, faith or morality. An example of a belief based on the astronaut example would be that women shouldn’t be allowed up in space because they should be home taking care of the family. Beliefs are usually emotional appeals that cannot be logically argued.

OK, I know, I know, I might have just geeked out on semantics but I want you to be able to use this to be as trustworthy as possible. What do you mean by truth? Are you telling a fact, giving an opinion, or spouting a belief when you are telling your truth?

If you’re not willing to be wrong then you’ll never be as right as you could be.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Christmas Gift

It was my first big paycheck and I was flush with the possibilities of all that I could buy. Should I invest? Travel? Buy designer duds? None of those ideas felt right. After much thought I decided to surprise my parents and buy them return tickets to England to fulfill a dream they had talked about for years.

Christmas was approaching and I imagined their faces as they opened up an envelope with two return tickets to London. They had never traveled further than a few hundred miles from their home and often talked about “some day” being able to go to England and visit their friends, Tom and Jean. Dad was a blue-collar worker and my Mom worked in the accounting department for Sears. Somehow they had always managed to put enough food on the table and pay for the mortgage on their tiny house but there was never any money left over for luxuries like travel.

Now they were empty nesters and were enjoying a time of abundance, which to them meant there was enough money left at the end of the month to go out for dinner and a movie.

Christmas day! I waited until all four of my other siblings were at Mom and Dad’s house before I gave them the card with the letter from the travel agency. I had prepaid for two economy tickets from Calgary to London and the travel agency had a refundable travel voucher made up. All Mom and Dad had to do was call them and give them the dates.

Dad handed Mom the card and told her to open it. I watched their faces. When she opened the envelope and read the letter her eyes filled with tears. Everyone was excited for them, and I loved the feeling of pride and gratitude from making their dream come true.

A week later I got a call from the travel agency. I thought it would be to tell me that my parents had picked the dates for their trip but, no, it was to tell me my parents had cashed in the tickets. My heart sank.

When I called my Mom to ask her why she canceled the tickets, she was terse and to the point. She told me the stove they had was starting to go and they decided the money would be better spent on something practical. I got off the phone and cried. I knew that was just an excuse and felt angry at what I knew was her fear of the unknown.

A good friend told me that when you give a gift, it is no longer in your control. It was an important life lesson for me. All gifts must be given without expectations.

I learned so much from the giving of the tickets. I learned you have to believe you are worthy of the trip. I learned you have to trust you can travel to places you’ve never been and will be OK. I learned that if you don’t take the trip when it’s offered, you might never have another opportunity.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Time for another Trust Vacation

Is it time for another trust vacation? If you want to build and grow the trust in your organization you need to step away long enough for your team to step up!

How many of you are able to unplug from technology? When you went on your last holiday, how many times did you check your emails and see if there were any problems at work you needed to answer?

It’s not a coincidence that many of the vacations my husband and I go on involve unplugging from technology. I have to trust that, if a client can’t get hold of me for a week, they will call back. When my husband Ric leaves on a vacation, he encourages his staff to step up and handle problems that develop, knowing they have his complete support. White water rafting and camping in the big outdoors means there are no electric outlets to plug in computers and usually no wifi signal to contact the outside world.

I also wonder if you recognize that unplugging and stepping away from your office, and letting others handle the problems that may arise, is a sign of your trust in them. It involves taking a chance and a leap of faith, and with that comes a level of risk. Things may be done differently than you would do them and, yes, there may even be a few things that aren't done at all. If you are going to develop your team and your business, you have to be able to trust and, by unplugging and allowing them to make decisions and take action, you show that you do.

This risk-taking is at the center of building trust. If we want to strengthen trust, we need to use it – and that means giving people opportunities to go a little further than they did yesterday.

Who was the person in your life that believed and trusted in you? How did their trust in you help shape the person you are today? Could you do that for one of your staff?

If you want to develop a trusted workplace, understand the strengths of your staff and ask yourself, “What do I need to do to help them work to their full potential and ability?” It starts with taking a trust vacation – stepping just far enough away from a responsibility so others can pick up the slack.

Are you going to choose to trust someone today?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Strategies for Crisis Communication

Trust and credibility are critically important when we are in a crisis. If you want people to trust you, they have to believe you are capable of managing the crisis and that takes effective communication.

The first memories I have of my nephew are gazing at him through a window at the nursery in the hospital. He was the first child of my brother, first grandchild of my parents, and first nephew of mine. He was welcomed, adored and loved.

I was reminded of that this week when I found out he was isolated at a camp North of Ft. McMurray, Alberta. The city was on fire and he was waiting to be evacuated. Facebook was our connection to him. "Are you safe?" was a question I asked him as I watched videos of ashes and burning embers rained down on cars and people. He assured all of us he was safe.

"What about your company? Aren't they arranging transportation? What have they told you?" He wrote back, "Very disappointed with my company. No information on what we're supposed to do. No information on anything! So I guess we sit here and wait."

What!!?? These were people who were concerned for their lives and they weren't getting any information.

I've talked about this at conferences. The time to make a communication plan is not during or after a crisis. It should be done, evaluated and ready to dust off whenever it is needed. I'm sure no one at my nephew's company was expecting a catastrophic fire but they should have had a plan if they had to do an emergency evacuation. How much do you think the company was trusted during the crisis?

Dr. Peter M. Sandman has 6 strategies that must be kept in mind during Crisis Communication. All of this makes perfect sense and will increase trust.
  1. Don't over-reassure. Over-reassurance pushes ambivalent audiences toward the alarmed side of the seesaw; it diminishes credibility and leaves them alone with their fears. If you have to get it wrong, better to err on the alarming side.
  2. Acknowledge uncertainty. Sounding more certain than you are rings false, sets you up to turn out wrong, and provokes debate with those who disagree. Better to say what you know, what you don't know, and what you are doing to learn more. Model the ability to bear uncertainty and take action anyway.
  3. Treat emotions as legitimate. In a crisis, people are right to be fearful and miserable. Both emotions are at risk of flipping into denial, or escalating into terror or depression, or receding into apathy. To help us bear our feelings, respect our feelings.
  4. Establish your own humanity. Express your own feelings; if you seem fearless, you can't help but model how others should master fear. Express your wishes: "I wish we could give you a more definite answer." Tell a few stories about your past, your family, your reactions to the crisis.
  5. Offer people things to do. Self-protective action helps mitigate fear; victim-aid action helps mitigate misery. All action helps us bear our emotions and thus helps prevent denial. Where possible, offer a choice of actions, bracketing your recommendations with less and more extreme options.
  6. Stop worrying about panic. Panic is rare. Efforts to avoid panic – for example, by withholding bad news and making over-reassuring statements – tend to backfire. People sometimes disobey in a crisis, but that's not panic. Worry about denial, worry about apathy; don't worry about panic.

These 6 strategies should be part of every crisis communication. Are they part of yours?

More trust means more success at work and in our personal relationships. If it's your time to tackle the difficult issue of trust in your organization, I'm here to help. Get in touch.

photo credit PremierofAlberta / Flickr

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Face Palm Moment

Oh boy, I'm tired. I had a dentist appointment at the ungodly hour of 6:30 am. For early risers this is probably an ideal time. For the rest of us, well...

I didn't trust myself to wake up at 5:30am so, starting at 3am, I woke up, looked at the clock and tried to go back to sleep. I did this every half hour until I finally got up at 4:30am after lying there staring at the ceiling for 20 minutes.

When I walked into the dental office I had a huge grin on my face in spite of the early hour. I was sooo pleased to arrive precisely on time. My smile faded when the receptionist looked at me quizzically and told me I was a day early. My appointment is tomorrow so I have to go through this all again. Arghhhh.

While standing at the counter I said I was hoping it was their mistake so I could be annoyed at someone other than myself. She gave me a half smile since she wasn't sure if I was joking. Honestly, neither was I. I really wanted someone else to be wrong. I even checked in my calendar and in the text confirmation that I was sent. It clearly showed tomorrow’s date. Face palm. It was my mistake but, like most people, who likes to be wrong?

As quickly as the realization came to mind, the feeling of wanting to blame was gone. It is a lot more powerful to take control and responsibility for what happens. The most powerful leaders are willing to admit mistakes.

My favorite TED Talk presenter is Brene Brown and she says blame is a mechanism for us to expel pain and discomfort. I had to think on that one for a while.

The problem with blame is I have a hard time trusting others who don't take responsibility for their mistakes, and I imagine you might, as well. Heck, when I'm trying to blame others for the state of my affairs, it makes me feel weak and I don't want that.

Here are a few simple things you can do to get out of the blame game:
  • Be on the lookout for it in yourself. Notice moments of blame. This may be you blaming yourself or you blaming others. Recognize your feelings. What pain, discomfort or negative energy are you dispelling? What did you feel after?
  • See it in others. Spend the next day noticing others using blame. Do you notice pain or discomfort that preceded their moment of blaming? How do you feel about their blaming?
  • Get blame free. Now that you have discovered why we blame, can you be more empathetic with yourself and others? Can you stop blaming?
Next time I want to yell at my husband for the 5 pounds I've gained, I'll recognize that he didn't force me to eat the pizza, cookies and ice cream. Blaming him isn't going to make my pants fit. I'm in control. Next time I'll choose the salad (maybe) but I'll quit the blaming and just enjoy the moment.

More trust means more success at work and in our personal relationships. I can help build the trust in your organization. If it's your time to tackle this difficult issue, I'm here to help. Get in touch.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Trust and Your Reputation

Your reputation is what people are saying about you behind your back. Shouldn’t you have some control over what is being said?

Reputation and trust are two words that are often intermingled. There is a big difference though. Your reputation is a backward view of what has happened, while trust is forward thinking. One affects the other. Trust is based on positive expectations of what you or your company can deliver in the future.

If I decide to do business with you, I'm going to check your reputation. What are people saying about you? What did you deliver? How quickly did you resolve problems? Now with a quick search, I can find out a lot about a person's reputation in business by looking at reviews that were posted. Everything from ebay to hotel chains to pizza deliveries are judged in real time and this will affect buying decisions.

Imagine you are working with a client who has paid a good sum of money to have you train their staff. So far your sales have all been from referrals from satisfied customers. Your reputation is what people trust. Now the new client wants to cut corners. Instead of four days of training, they want you to do it in two. The manager who agreed to participate in the training so they could champion and ensure that others followed the program is a no-show. How will this affect your reputation and future business? Trust and reputation go hand in hand, and you have to be able to see the big picture rather than the immediate paycheck.

The work you do is not only about the income you make. It is about getting results. In order to keep your reputation and be known as trustworthy, you have to be willing to have difficult conversations with clients, and occasionally be willing to fire them.

More trust means more success at work and in our personal relationships. I can help build the trust in your organization. If it's your time to tackle this difficult issue, I'm here to help. Get in touch.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Trust Quiz

I've been asked, "How do you know whether you can trust someone?" My answer: "You trust them." Be smart about it though. You don't hand over the keys to the Cadillac when you first meet someone. Deep trust is built over time.

"I trust you" is a better compliment than "I love you" because you may not always trust the person you love but you can always love the person you trust. ~ Anonymous ~

I've exposed my true self - flaws, mistakes and all - to my friends. I trust them completely to hold my secrets in a sacred place and I know they trust me to do the same. Those relationships have been built over time and I can trust past performance to pretty accurately predict future behavior.

If you are trying to figure out whether or not to trust someone, here's a way to consider it.

On a scale of 1-10 (1 is low, 10 is high), how much do you trust this person? Write down the score.

Now answer this series of questions.

The first set is YES questions. Give one point for each YES answer.
  1. Do they keep their commitments?
  2. Does what they say and what they do line up?
  3. Do they take responsibility for their mistakes or admit if they are wrong?
  4. Do they listen well?
  5. On an ongoing basis, when they tell you something will happen, does it happen?

The next set is NO questions. Give one point for each NO answer.
  1. Have you witnessed them talking badly about a person, and then greeted that same person as a good friend when they met them face-to-face?
  2. Do they criticize others for a behavior or action that they also have committed?
  3. Do they manipulate people behind the scenes to get what they want, even if it hurts others?
  4. When confronted, do they evade or twist the situation, accusing you or another person of having the problem?
  5. Are they often in trouble but never admit it's their own fault?

Add up the points from the quiz.

Does your score from the quiz match the score you gave on the trust scale? Why or why not? What does this tell you? Although these questions may seem trivial, they are not. Our character is shown in these moment to moment interactions, and the little things really are big things.

If you initially assigned a high trust score but the score from the quiz was a 5 or lower, your trust meter may be out of whack. This can be painful to work on but, as the saying goes, "if you’re going through hell, keep going." Find a good coach. Take some emotional intelligence training.

As your own trust-ability grows, so will your confidence and your trustworthy friendships. Knowing who and how to trust is something that can be improved. When you improve trust, you improve your life.

More trust means more success at work and in our personal relationships. I can help build the trust in your organization. If it's your time to tackle this difficult issue, I'm here to help. Get in touch.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Start Here

If someone were to refer you to a doctor they didn’t really believe in, would you trust their recommendation? Of course not! So why, oh why would you believe anyone would trust you, if you don’t trust yourself first? Let’s start the New Year by improving our self-trust.

I’ve seen it in my friends... well OK, I’ve seen it in myself, too. You take care of everyone else and then feel guilty if you spend time on yourself. I’m not talking about becoming a narcissist. I’m talking about saying “Yes” to yourself, and allowing yourself to say “No” to others when you get that feeling of overwhelm which often happens when we are trying to do too much.

I’m reading Jack Canfield’s Success Principles and he has a great way of wording a “No” so people hear what you say and don’t take it personally. Here is what Jack says: “You know, my saying no to you is not against you or what you are trying to accomplish. It’s a very worthy cause, but recently I realized I’ve been over-committing myself outside my home. So even though I support what you’re doing, the fact is I’ve made a commitment to spend more time with my family. It’s not against you; it’s for us.” I’ve coached others to build up to a “No” when they find it difficult. For some, saying “Let me get back to you” gives them an opportunity to think about whether they really want to do what they are being asked to do.

What is the kindest thing you’ve done for another person? Now, how about doing that same kindness to yourself? Caring for yourself as much as you care for others will give you a healthier and happier you to share.

When my nephew Matt was a little boy, he told my brother that he would have to give up school because it was interfering with his hockey. You see, Matt had made a commitment to hockey and he was willing to give up everything else that got in the way. I'm happy to say that, although Matt wasn’t allowed to give up school, he kept his commitment to hockey and now coaches his children’s little league games. What he gives to others is also a gift he gives to himself. He shares what he loves with those he loves and everyone wins.

What is your commitment level to your own dreams? Are you willing to keep at them even when things are tough and, like Matt, you have to fit it in with your regular life?

Kaizen is the practice of continuous improvement. Although it is often referred to as an organizational practice, it is equally effective for individuals. What do you want to achieve? What would your life be like if you completely trusted yourself? What small continuous improvements are you willing to do to make that a reality?

If you want others to trust you, trust yourself first.

More trust means more success at work and in our personal relationships. I can help build the trust in your organization. If it's your time to tackle this difficult issue, I'm here to help. Get in touch.