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Posts from the ‘Idea for reflection’ Category

the decision to trust

One of the quickest ways to gain everyone’s focus is to say the word “trust” in any given situation: work, training, coaching – the workplace, community organization, or family. We know who we trust and want others to trust us. But we don’t spend much time thinking about how and why we trust others and how and why others trust us.

Have you ever extended trust and gotten burned? Distrust leads to anxiety, fear, and anger. These are associated with processes initiated by the amygdala – the “low road” of the brain. A judgment of distrust immediately sets up the fight – flight – freeze experience in a threat response.

How do you feel when you’ve extended trust and received trust in return? Neurological research suggests that trust is correlated with the presence of oxytocin. This hormone is associated with healthy personal connections demonstrated by reduced fear response and increased well-being. In a trusting environment of relationships, the high-level brain functions – critical analysis, logic, creative thinking, and verbal ability – are easily accessed.

From behind the desk as leaders and managers, we function every day in workplaces where there is never enough time to reach the end of the “to-do” list. We face an unending series of conflicting demands. We are forced to change priorities often, sometimes on the spot. We do not always have control over compensation or promotions. We try to be transparently honest, consistent in our actions, and caring about each person. Yet we wonder why at times people work with an air of resignation, with a lack of trust in our leaders and organizations.

Understanding trust in the workplace:
Trust in the workplace is about vulnerability. In the workplace we are vulnerable in the areas of money, role, or promotions. And vulnerable to intangible things like beliefs, a way of doing things, status, or reputation. We are vulnerable to other’s actions. When we trust, we hope their actions will support and, at least, not harm us.

Trust is the focus of safety, autonomy, and human dignity. When we trust, our reactions include: I am safe. I can be open and curious. I can handle what is happening. I communicate freely, offer ideas, and expect the best. The opposites are true for distrust: I am in danger and under threat. I need to protect myself. I can’t handle this. I complain, withdraw, and expect the worst. I experience fear, anger, and resentment.

When we choose to trust we are making a complex decision. Stating that we trust someone is based on our judgment in four areas: integrity, intent, capabilities, and results.

  • Integrity has become a buzzword. It is invisible. But at its core, integrity is honesty: telling the truth and leaving the right impression. Other qualities that are a part of integrity are: congruence – acting consistently from our values, humility – putting others first while being more concerned about what is right rather than being right, and courage – doing the right thing even in the face of challenges.
  • Intent is part of our character. At its core is sincerity and motivation. To increase trust, intent must be visible. We communicate openly about what we are choosing to do and why we are acting. We communicate that our motivation is to act for the genuine benefit of others. We seek ways to create “enough” rather than function out of stress and scarcity.
  • Capabilities are more than the traditional “KSA” – knowledge, skills, and abilities. They include “TASKS:” Talents – natural gifts and strengths. Attitudes – our map of the world and how we behave. Skills – what we do well, specifically ones that are relevant to our work. Knowledge – learning, insight, and awareness. Style – our unique approaches to work, our personality.
  • Results represent our track record in taking responsibility for accomplishing goals and getting the right things done.

Managing trust in the workplace:
Since trust is a complex decision, as leaders and managers we can begin to understand ourselves by asking, “How am I acting and communicating in ways that build trust in my integrity and sincerity? In my intent and care? In my capabilities and competence? In my results and reliability?”

We manage more successfully when we ask ourselves why we don’t trust someone before we begin having workplace conversations. What are we saying when we say that we don’t trust someone? Do we have issues with their integrity? Intentions? Capabilities? Or, results?

Then we begin the conversation with being specific about our concerns about what they have done, not focusing on what they are. Ask how they see the situation and listen carefully for issues of integrity, intent, capabilities, and results.

Ask what they would do to restore trust. State clearly what actions and attitudes you need to experience from them in order to restore trust. Close by asking how they will commit to act in a trustworthy way.

On the flip side, if we have broken trust, the only antidote is to acknowledge and apologize. Acknowledgement means recognizing the betrayal of trust from the other person’s perspective – even if it was unintentional on your part. Be specific about how trust was betrayed: by integrity, intent, capability, or result. And apologize: take responsibility and state your intent to act with good motives and care for everyone’s benefit and well-being. It always includes not repeating the action and acting to correct the problem at hand.

Practicing trust in the workplace:
Observe your co-workers and begin to distinguish between different types of trust issues. Reflect on what others you trust are saying and doing that makes them trustworthy. Ask, “What do you entrust to others in the workplace? Why? What do your co-workers entrust to you? Why?”

Inspire trust by seeking to understand yourself and your own credibility, and then consistently behave in trust-building ways with other people. Consider how you can communicate so that others do not misunderstand you. Create and hold an intention to be trustworthy. An intention will bring clarity (why I’m doing this), meaning (why it’s important to me), and purpose (why this reflects my values) to everything that happens

Trust in the workplace takes an understanding how others judge trustworthiness, observing language and actions, and setting an intention to be a trusted leader, co-worker, and employee. Relationships based on mutual trust are the foundation for health in our companies, government, communities, and families.

What do you entrust to others in the workplace? Why? What do your co-workers entrust to you? Why?

unexpected discoveries

One of the things I love to do is walk into a small bookstore with an uninterrupted hour at hand. I realize “love” isn’t usually used on an organization development blog, but I find my pulse quickening with anticipation when I discover a small, independent bookstore. I know an adventure is about to begin.

I love walking into a small bookstore. I observe the store lay out. I look at what’s kept closest to the check-out. I get a cup of coffee. And I listen. I listen to the kids playing in the children’s section, the clerk suggesting books, the three retirees rehearsing the morning’s golf game in the coffee shop, the baristas planning their evening escape.

And I read. I pick up random books, reading and browsing. There are some by local authors, fiction, history, photography. But the most exciting thing is encountering books by authors that don’t appear on my Barnes & Nobel or Amazon suggestion list. A random trip through the independent bookstore defeats the algorithm. Discovery begins.

I purchased two books: This is the Story of a Happy Marriage and Social: Why Our Brains are Wired to Connect. In the first, Ann Patchett gathers essays on life, relationship, work, and art. Her writing flows, and the essays kept me asking myself about my own choices. In the second, Matthew Lieberman asks who we are as individuals and what drives our behaviors in relationships. His use of a mix of stories, examples, and research was interesting, but his writing style is what kept me reading: “fairness tastes like chocolate; our trojan horse selves; business brain.” I asked what this means for me and the people in the organizations I encounter.

I recommend both books. And, more importantly, I recommend seeking out an adventure this weekend.

What will you discover?

The photo is of my longtime favorite independent bookstore: Page and Palette in Fairhope, Alabama.
And my favorite local independent bookstore is Watermark Books in Wichita, Kansas.


Idea for reflection – 41

Intuition is not a single way of knowing – it’s our ability to hold space for uncertainty and our willingness to trust the many ways we’ve developed knowledge and insight, including instant, experience, faith, and reason.

– Brené Brown, from The Gifts of Imperfection

Idea for reflection – 40

Idea for reflection – 40

Mastery requires endurance. Mastery, a word we don’t use often, is not the equivalent of what we might consider its cognate— perfectionism— an inhuman aim motivated by a concern with how others view us. Mastery is also not the same as success— an event-based victory based on a peak point, a punctuated moment in time. Mastery is not merely a commitment to a goal, but to a curved-line, constant pursuit.

– Sarah Lewis, from The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery

Idea for reflection – 39

Idea for reflection – 39

You cannot be really first-rate at your work if your work is all you are.
– Anna Quindalen, from A Short Guide to a Happy Life

Idea for reflection – 38

Idea for reflection – 38

How many times do you get a blinding insight out of your own head? You get to blinding insight when you listen to somebody and take that little snippet of logic or data or whatever, merge it with something that is in your head and—whammo— out comes a new interesting thought. That is where the out-of-the-box ideas come from, and you systematically prevent yourself from getting there by being dismissive of users, dismissive of clients, dismissive of colleagues who don’t agree with you.

The kernel of somebody who doesn’t agree with you is either different data, or different logic; I think you get out-of-the-boxness by getting outside your own head and understanding this different data or logic, not by digging deeper in your own head for something that just isn’t there.

Roger Martin, from Design Thinking and How It Will Change Management Education

Idea for reflection – 37

Idea for reflection – 37

When I am, as it were, completely myself, entirely alone, and of good cheer – say, traveling in a carriage, or walking after a good meal, or during the night when I cannot sleep: it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly. Whence and how they come, I know not; nor can I force them.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Idea for reflection – 36

Idea for reflection – 36

Simplicity can be a choice, a feeling, or a guiding light. You can tell pretty quickly when you’re in a place that believes in it and when you’re in a place that doesn’t.

Simplicity has its own kryptonite in the equal and opposite force of Complexity.

Ken Segall in Insanely Simple, p. 7 and 8

Insanely Simple
Idea for reflection – 35

Idea for reflection – 35

Imagination is more important than information.
Albert Einstein

Holy curiosity
Idea for reflection – 33

Idea for reflection – 34

Without great solitude no serious work is possible.
Pablo Picasso

Idea for reflection – 33
extrovert – introvert

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