How to build trust

Continuing on with the theme of the last couple of weeks–walking your talk and living and leading according to your values, let’s look at some specific behaviours that signal trustworthiness. Here are four general behaviours that you can make part of your repertoire if they aren’t already:

  1. Engage in cheery banter.
  2. Make and maintain eye contact with people.
  3. Smile.
  4. Tell people you are committed to being open and honest.

Naturally, you don’t want to over-do any of these, just as you don’t want to under-do them. Think of Goldilocks and aim for ‘just right’.

Here are some other, more specific, tips:

  • Behave consistently lest your changing priorities, rules and standards lead people to label you a hypocrite.
  • Consider the impact of your actions on others lest you behave inconsiderately or thoughtlessly.
  • Deal with the tough stuff like a helpful coach, not a confrontational critic.
  • Keep confidences.
  • Honour your commitments.
  • Look after your team member’s as well as your organisation’s interests (not just your own).
  • When changes are needed, carefully explain why change is needed, what it is intended to achieve and what you expect from people.
  • When you get something wrong, say so and say what you’ve learned from your mistakes.

What do you stand for?

You’ve probably heard the saying ‘When you don’t know what you stand for, you’ll fall for anything’. Or words to that effect.

What you stand for depends on what you value. What are the 10 most important foundations you live your life by? (If you want to check, you can do an Internet search for ‘values tests’ and complete one or two.)

Values give you deep roots. They’re your ‘inner compass’ that guides your actions and decisions.

Knowing your own values helps you to find a good employment match. Working with an organisation with similar values to your own makes it easy to practice what you preach–or ‘walk your talk’, which we considered last week. You’re happiest and work best when your own values and the values of your employer are in accord. And you’re happiest and achieve the most when you spend the bulk of your time, at work and at home, on activities that reflect your values.

When you have a strong sense of your own values and behave in line with them, you’re easy to work with because you behave consistently. This earns people’s confidence and trust–the lubrication every organisation needs to operate optimally.

So, then: What are your top ten values? Do they match your organisation’s values? Do your day-to-day actions and activities echo them?

Managing your emotions

Budget cuts, lay-offs, organisation changes and takeovers, a new boss, an annoying work colleague–they’re all recipes for feeling just a tad emotional and stressed. And the way you respond–not react–can harm or enhance your standing in the eyes of your colleagues.

Reacting is automatic and reflexive. It’s a sign your ‘reptilian brain’ is in control. With your reptilian brain in charge, you say something or do something reflexively, without thought, which generally puts you at a disadvantage. You can end up looking defensive and emotional and embarrassing yourself and others.

When you respond, you’ve given a bit of rational thought to what you do or say. It doesn’t mean you don’t feel annoyed, nervous or upset, but it does mean you’ve thought about how to deal with your feelings and chosen whether, and how much, to put your emotions out there for everyone to see.

It takes only seconds to respond rather that react. When we’re feeling an emotion, we tend to shallow breathe, which puts us in the flight-fight-freeze mode of our reptilian brain; great when your life is on the line but not so great at work. Keep breathing to give your brain some oxygen and give your ‘thinking brain’, the neocortex, a chance to take over.

Say, for example, you’re feeling frustrated because you’ve been on hold for the usual ridiculous and insulting amount of time, or your boss hasn’t acknowledged a particularly great job you’ve done. Before saying or doing anything, take a deep breath. Stop and think about why you’re feeling frustrated and how you could think about the situation differently. Maybe being on hold gives you a chance to look out the window and give your eyes a rest. Maybe when your boss doesn’t compliment you on a great job it’s because she expects nothing less than the best from you because you’re a star.  Now you can decide what, if anything, you want to do.

Or say you’re feeling angry. At the very first sign of anger, stop what you’re doing and breathe. Then maybe go and grab a glass of water and drink it. The key is to interrupt the anger and give yourself some thinking space so you can work out your most effective response.

And here is the good news: Managing your emotions is like exercising your willpower–the more you do it, the easier it becomes.