Steps to Building Workplace Trust

Steps to Building Workplace Trust

Building trust with the people you work with is essential in order to accomplish your goals.  All the flexibility and direction in the world won’t help your positive persuasion efforts if you lack trust.  But if a person has trust in you, they may quickly let go of their personal reality in favor of the one you offer—your positive vision of a new way to solve a problem or achieve a goal.

And how do you build trust?  One successful business and self-development strategy is by blending.

You already know how to blend.  You have friends and good relationships with co-workers, right? But if you do not know how to blend on purpose, it’s likely to be the last thing you think of when you need most to do it!

Here are three successful strategies for building trust with others in your workplace.  This is a good beginning. We will explore others in the future.

1. Let people know you are on their side. The irony of conflict is that everybody has more in common with everyone else than they have differences.  But instead of emphasizing the similarities in policies, plans and relationships—the differences get all the attention.   Blending is the means by which you reduce differences between yourself and others.  You blend automatically with your friends when you share experiences.  Blending is what happens when people share a vision or agree to a mission.  Fact is, we like the people who are in some way, like us. Blending is a good choice for you to make when differences take over. Nobody cooperates with anybody who ‘seems to be’ against them.

2.  Send Signals of Similarity. Sending signals of similarity to let people know we are on their side is an excellent tactic. A proven way to send signals of similarity to let people know we are on their side is not just to tell them.  Studies show that sending signals of similarity through body posture, animation facial expressions, among others are successful ways. If the co-worker that you would like to persuade to follow your ideas is sitting down, you should be sitting down also.  If you are sitting and they are standing, offer them a chair.  Listen to the pace at which the other person speaks, and then match that pace in order to seem similar.  Notice what the co-worker is doing and mirror some (but not all of it) back. In this way you reduce the differences between you.

3. Listen to coworkers for valuable information on how to structure your communication back to them. With some practice, you can recognize communication ‘needs’ by noticing the communication style of others.  Then you can communicate back to them appropriately.

There are four styles in particular that reflect four communication needs.  You can build trust among coworkers by improving your skills at recognizing a person’s ‘needs-style’.

To strengthen your ability to recognize a person’s ‘needs-style’ you must notice what they talk about and how directly they talk about it.

– Task focus: Sometimes, people talk more about what they’re doing.  That means they are focused on a task. The task might be discussing an idea, making a decision, resolving a dispute or meeting an objective.  This is a ‘task-focus’.

– People focus: Sometimes people talk more about the people around them, or their feelings in a given situation.  Let’s call that a ‘people focus’.

A person focused more on a task than on people may pay more attention to the end result of the task than the details they encounter along the way. Or, they may pay more attention to the details of the task than to the end result.  You can notice this in the way they talk.

A person focused more on people than on a task may express more interest in the opinions and feelings of others, or in their own opinions and feelings.

  • Need for action: when a person is focused on the end result of an interaction of an idea, he has a communication need for action.  She needs you to speak directly and actively.  She needs to hear movement in a direction in the way you talk.

— Your response: the best blending practices tell us that when a person is direct and to the point (Just do it.) you want to be direct and to the point in dealing with her.

  • Need for accuracy: when a person is focused on the details of an interaction or an idea, she has s communication need for accuracy. She needs to hear that you are paying attention to the details in the way you respond to her.

— Your response: you want to be indirect and detailed in your communications with this person.  When accuracy is important she will ask questions to acquire information or make long statements to establish facts.

  • Need for approval: when a person is focused more on what others think and say than on her own thoughts and feelings, she has a need for approval.  She needs to hear that you also have a concern for the thoughts and feelings of others in the way you talk.

Your response: you must be just as indirect and considerate in your responses to this person.  Use comments like, “Is this a good time? Would you like me to come back later? Yes? No?  You tell me, I’ll understand.” Show great respect for her time back to her.

  • Need for appreciation: when a person is focused more on her own thoughts and feelings than the thoughts and feelings of others she has a need for appreciation. She needs to hear that you appreciate her in the way you talk.  He will speak directly and enthusiastically.  Lots of personal stories to grab attention and hold the spotlight of your attention and your appreciation for what he has to say.

–Your response: even though you may be wondering why she is going on and on about a topic, you want to be just as direct and enthusiastic in your communications with him.

Speaking to the Need: These needs—action, accuracy, approval and appreciation—get communicated through the style or structure by which a person speaks.  And there are indicators (when you notice them) that allow you to speak to the need.

To succeed in the art of persuasion, learning what you can about how people communicate is one important building block.  By doing so, you can act to prevent and resolve conflict.

In future posts, I will provide you with additional tools for recognizing communications needs-style and building trust with coworkers.

Be well,

Dr. Rick Kirschner