How to build (and re-build) trust

Trust is at the core of every good work environment. When you can trust that you will be treated with respect, that you will have opportunities to express your thoughts and ideas without being cut off or minimized, that you will not be judged or talked about inappropriately because of how you look or sound, that your leaders are mature, thoughtful, good listeners open to hearing perspectives different from their own … then you know you are in a good place.

In her TED Talk, “How to build (and re-build) trust,” Harvard Business School professor Frances Frei talks about how she felt compelled to spend eight months working with Uber to help rebuild the trust they had damaged or destroyed with their constituents.

Trust is the foundation for everything we do,” Frei says. Its pillars are authenticity, logic and empathy. If any one of them “wobbles,” trust is threatened.

She believes empathy is the easiest to “wobble” because everyone is so distracted. When she introduced the rule “technology off and away” in meetings, which was the opposite of Uber’s culture, it led to countless candid conversations where people paid attention to what others were saying. They realized empathy is possible only when you truly hear and see someone.

She taught leaders how to express their logic, make their point, succinctly and up front before weaving in the back story. This was a huge shift in how they communicated with each other and their people.

Authenticity is still a work in progress, she says. It’s easy to be your authentic self when you work with people who have perspectives similar to yours. But if you think, look or sound different, being authentic can be a real challenge. It takes guts, confidence, and persistence. Frei encouraged leaders to listen to perspectives different from their own, to be role models so that it would trickle through the organization.

I think we all would agree that when you are open to different perspectives and allow them to shine, there are more opportunities for significant breakthroughs.

This TED Talk is chock full of good points. I’ve listened to it a number of times over the past month. I hope you will give it a listen. Because every one of us contributes to the trust that exists in our workplaces.

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