chapter six Copyright 2015. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. How You Trust When our son, Will, was a little boy we put him on crosscountry skis. At the foot of his first big hill his voice quivered, “I don’t think I can do it, Daddy.” Dennis gave his son’s shoulder a quick squeeze. “Sure you can, Will. I’m right here with you. We’ll take it one step at a time.” On the way up the long, steep hill, Will experienced some moments of struggle, fear, and anxiety. Once the pair had finally reached the top, Dennis leaned down and encouraged our son, “Turn around and look, Will, and see what you did.” When Will turned around, he couldn’t believe what he saw. He had climbed all the way up this long, steep hill by himself. His trust and confidence soared. He shouted out to the heavens, “Let’s do it again, Daddy. Let’s do it again!” And again and again they did. The Four Questions of Your Capacity for Trust Like Will, before you tackle a big new challenge, you may have trepidations and question your capability. As you become aware of your current Capacity for Trust, you realize just how deeply it affects your perceptions, beliefs, and behaviors—and the level of unease you feel when facing new or uncomfortable situations. The 109 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Business Collection (EBSCOhost) – printed on 11/17/2020 11:11 PM via THOMAS JEFFERSON UNIVERSITY – EAST FALLS AN: 846281 ; Reina, Dennis, Reina, Michelle.; Trust and Betrayal in the Workplace : Building Effective Relationships in Your Organization Account: s4084935.main.ehost 110 Trust and Betrayal in the Workplace material you’re getting ready to dive into next will expand on this awareness. By reflecting on a series of four questions, you’re going to learn more about yourself and what you need to do to expand your Capacity for Trust—both in yourself and in others. Trust building does not require you to change who you are, but rather to be aware of who you are. You need to be honest about what you need from relationships, about what you have to give, and about what behaviors within The Three Cs you must practice to earn your own and others’ trust. By raising your selfawareness, you put yourself in the strongest position to make the best choices about how to behave, even in low-trust situations. The following four questions will help you make those choices and understand why others’ behaviors differ from your own. Increasing your self-awareness allows you to make the best choices about how to behave in challenging situations. A final note before moving into the questions: your answers may depend on the various situations in which you find yourself. There are no “wrong” answers. Each question should be viewed as a sliding scale with the understanding that context influences how you respond. We ask these questions to open your awareness to different ways of thinking and behaving—and to understand how those approaches influence your ability to trust yourself and others. The goal of working through these questions is for you to be able to meet your co-workers where they are and work together to get to where you all want to be—a trusting, compassionate, and productive workplace. Let’s get started. EBSCOhost – printed on 11/17/2020 11:11 PM via THOMAS JEFFERSON UNIVERSITY – EAST FALLS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use chapter six ® How You Trust How YouTRUST® Trust HOW YOU DO YOU NEED TO SEE IT TO BELIEVE IT? HOW REALISTIC ARE YOU? CAPACITY FOR TRUST DO YOU GENERALIZE? DO YOU OPERATE IN THE GRAY? How Realistic Are You? Do you place a reasonable amount of trust in yourself or others to meet specific goals and deadlines? Or do you routinely underestimate what’s needed to get the job done, placing yourself and others in uncomfortable positions at the eleventh hour of a promised deliverable? When you are realistic, you more accurately judge the time, skill level, and resources required to complete a project. The degree to which your projections are tied to concrete, attainable outcomes indicates how realistic you are, which in turn influences how you take risks. Those who tend toward a high degree of realism may take calculated chances and develop trust in incremental steps. They’re more apt to assess the risks involved before placing confidence in others. They check assumptions and reevaluate the judgments they form about people and situations. They break large projects down into manageable pieces, EBSCOhost – printed on 11/17/2020 11:11 PM via THOMAS JEFFERSON UNIVERSITY – EAST FALLS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use 111 112 Trust and Betrayal in the Workplace encourage others to collaborate in order to meet goals, and give people the time and space they need to do their jobs. The more realistic you are, the better you’re able to judge what’s actually needed to get the job done. Those with contracted degrees of realism often take unreasonable risks, believing it’s possible to overcome insurmountable challenges at all costs. They trust themselves more than others to take on important tasks, even if they don’t personally possess the necessary skills or expertise to complete the work. They often fail to provide necessary information to teammates or reach out for help when needed, jeopardizing the company’s reputation and relationships with clients. At first blush, it may seem that being unrealistic is wholly without merit. That’s not entirely true. Some of the greatest achievements of mankind have occurred because people have forged ahead in order to achieve “the impossible,” despite all available evidence that the risk of failure was nearly absolute. It’s important to remember that each person’s view of “the impossible” is different. Writing a book while working full time and raising a family may be viewed by some as unrealistic. To others, it appears more like a series of manageable hurdles to clear on the way to inevitable success. Climbing Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen was considered a suicide mission—until Messner and Habeler accomplished the feat in 1978. Remember, the lesson in discovering your predisposition to being realistic is to make you aware of your natural tendencies, so that you can be honest with yourself and others about the risks you’re taking. Being unrealistic can be the launching point for EBSCOhost – printed on 11/17/2020 11:11 PM via THOMAS JEFFERSON UNIVERSITY – EAST FALLS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use chapter six ® How You Trust How to Spot When You’re Being Unproductively Unrealistic ¡ You find yourself running from meeting to meeting or call to call with little time to get actual work completed. As a result you work late nights and weekends to get caught up. ¡ You find that your product or projects are being pushed out the door before they meet your organization’s standards of quality. ¡ You aren’t able to name your top three priorities, but instead rattle off more than a dozen “vital” initiatives or goals. ¡ When you review your day, you realize you spent more time dictating (or coercing) than listening. ¡ You notice others have stopped reaching out to you to give or receive help or support. big things, but the people involved need to be aware of what “it” will take and what’s on the line if they’re not successful. When equipped with this knowledge, both you and others can make informed decisions to “buy in” (or not) to your ideas, timelines, or deliverables. If failure does occur, a baseline of trust can be maintained—if there’s a willingness to learn from the experience. Do You Need to See It to Believe It? Are you able to take direction according to philosophy, values, and intuition? Or do you need concrete facts, figures, and hard evidence in order to trust your marching orders? Do you take a “prove it first” approach to working with others? Or are you able to take their words at face value? The degree to which you need to “see it to believe it” influences your ability to let go, delegate, trust in the promises of EBSCOhost – printed on 11/17/2020 11:11 PM via THOMAS JEFFERSON UNIVERSITY – EAST FALLS.
All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use 113 114 Trust and Betrayal in the Workplace others, and not feel the need to be in control. People who don’t need concrete, tangible evidence to move forward are usually more willing to give others the benefit of the doubt, deal with ambiguity and uncertainty, and approach relationships with greater flexibility and freedom. Letting go of your need to “see it to believe it” allows you to trust in others’ approach to work—and life. Of course, different jobs demand different approaches. People in senior leadership positions are generally more comfortable creating tasks and action items according to “the ideal” of theoretical mission statements. They sorely need “boots on the ground” to give them accurate, honest feedback about their strategic decisions— feedback that’s grounded in tangible, concrete realities on the front lines. Neither group is wrong in its predisposition toward abstract or concrete thinking in a given circumstance—so long as they recognize the value the other viewpoint brings to the table. We’re not espousing that you should always strive toward a “what might be” approach or settle comfortably into a “what is” frame of mind. The point of this question is for you to identify the camp from which you usually operate, understand why you operate that way, and then begin to think about the specific people or situations in your life that push you out of your comfort zone. Do you trust them less than you would if they approached life and work the way you did? Can you take the first steps toward recognizing the value of their positions? Being open to others who approach things differently than you builds trusting relationships. We all want to be seen and valued for who we are and what we bring to the table. EBSCOhost – printed on 11/17/2020 11:11 PM via THOMAS JEFFERSON UNIVERSITY – EAST FALLS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use chapter six ® How You Trust How to Spot When You May Be Missing the Value of Others’ Approach to Work ¡ Your gut tells you that people are telling you what they think you want to hear rather than what is really on their mind. ¡ You feel your blood pressure go through the roof when colleagues challenge your position or approach. ¡ You find yourself cut out of high-level discussions because you’ve become known as a naysayer. ¡ You notice people come to you for reports only on things that have already happened and never to ask you for new ideas about how to make your workplace better in the future. ¡ You find yourself surrounded by people who never ask you for something you have to stretch to deliver. Do You Operate in the Gray? Are you inclined to base your decisions on black-and-white, rightor-wrong, and good-or-bad criteria? Are you prone to writing people off when they make a mistake? How comfortable are you with ambiguity? Do you find stimulation in taking in the multifaceted aspects of a situation or relationship? The extent to which you’re able to operate “in the gray” and consider extenuating circumstances affects your ability to make sophisticated, informed decisions about people, situations, and ideas. When you’re comfortable with ambiguity, you’re able to see multiple ways to approach a given scenario, each with its own pros and cons. You’re able to appreciate that each person has strengths and weaknesses and that their needs may vary based upon the situation. You’re more inclined to give the benefit of the doubt, ask questions, and test your assumptions. You can engage EBSCOhost – printed on 11/17/2020 11:11 PM via THOMAS JEFFERSON UNIVERSITY – EAST FALLS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use 115 116 Trust and Betrayal in the Workplace with others—and with life—with a healthy mix of positive expectation and skepticism. When you aren’t comfortable in the gray zone, you tend to see the world in more simplistic terms—a “right” way and a “wrong” way. People are either “all good” or “all bad.” This approach generally leads to you being seen as strong-willed, rigid, and unwilling to compromise. This can be highly problematic in the workplace as you try to juggle the inherent complexities of unique personalities, unexplored opportunities, and deep-rooted system problems. If you’re constantly making snap judgments and simplistic arguments, you set yourself up to be left out in the cold when it comes to getting the marquis assignments or coveted promotions. Moreover, you miss the opportunity to build valuable relationships with people who, although not perfect, are able to contribute to your learning and quality of life. When you aren’t comfortable with ambiguity, you may see the world in more simplistic terms: black-and-white or good-and-bad. Does all of this mean that it’s always best to operate in the gray? No. There are times when a cut-and-dry approach is imperative. Consider the result if an EMT ruminated on perfect technique before jumping in to give CPR. Or if a mother googled the latest treatise on traffic-flow patterns before running into a busy intersection to save her runaway child. The same is true for the workplace. We’ve all been in meetings where “analysis paralysis” is holding up forward movement. Sometimes, a decision just needs to be made, even if the best choice is not unequivocally clear. There is a time and place for in-depth analysis, just as there is for rapid action; the key is to know the difference between the EBSCOhost – printed on 11/17/2020 11:11 PM via THOMAS JEFFERSON UNIVERSITY – EAST FALLS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use chapter six ® How You Trust How to Spot When You Need to Rethink Your Black-and-White Approach ¡ You routinely discover your snap decisions weren’t the right ones for the good of your team or organization. ¡ Your circle of professional and personal friends has narrowed to only those who agree with you. ¡ You find yourself reluctant to reconstruct a “burned bridge” so you avoid tapping an alienated colleague’s expertise on a new project. ¡ Your boss, colleagues, and employees have stopped bringing you new ideas or suggestions for changes. ¡ You find yourself thinking about where you “would have been” in your career (or personal life) if you’d just been able to relax your need for control. two. Once you can spot how you and others naturally approach situations—and compare those behaviors with appropriate actions—then you can begin to adjust your behaviors to be more productive and responsive to your co-workers’ needs. This awareness will help you build confidence in your own capabilities and develop trusting relationships with other people as they learn that you value their starting points. Do You Generalize? Do you assume that whatever is true for you is true for others? When you have a good or bad experience with one member of a group, do you automatically generate good or bad feelings about the rest of its members? Or do take the approach that others may not always align with your approach to life and work? Are you EBSCOhost – printed on 11/17/2020 11:11 PM via THOMAS JEFFERSON UNIVERSITY – EAST FALLS.
All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use 117 118 Trust and Betrayal in the Workplace comfortable taking each person on his or her own terms regardless of group affiliation or context? When you project your own values and beliefs onto others and stigmatize crowds of people based on one interaction, you risk your ability to make sound decisions and to build trust. Recognizing your limitations or strengths in this area of your life can help you remove stresses in your relationships and develop a healthier approach to your work. When you’re able to meet people where they are (instead of where you imagine or want them to be), you open up possibilities for meaningful, enduring connections and informed decision making. Additionally, you ease up in your assessments of your own and others’ performance, and take in the reality that failure isn’t necessarily indicative of poor character or “bad” organizations, but rather a natural occurrence in the course of human development. Meeting people where they are—instead of where you imagine them to be—opens up possibilities for deeper connections. When people are different from you, you may find it difficult to trust them—especially if you’ve had past negative experiences with people “like them.” For example, if you’ve previously struggled to collaborate with a key staffer over in accounting, then you may be hesitant to trust anyone else from that department— regardless of their attitude, aptitude, or approach to your shared work. This is understandable and a natural human response. We’ve all been conditioned to attach labels to negative experiences. Doing so, however, is a disservice to ourselves and to others as we try to build trusting relationships. EBSCOhost – printed on 11/17/2020 11:11 PM via THOMAS JEFFERSON UNIVERSITY – EAST FALLS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use chapter six ® How You Trust How to Spot When You’re Limiting Yourself by Overgeneralizing about Others ¡ You resist talking with people who seem different from you. ¡ You resist talking with people who remind you of someone else with which you had a bad experience. ¡ You can’t remember the last time you welcomed someone into your life who forced you to stretch and grow. ¡ You’re routinely mystified—and frustrated—by others’ approach to life and work. ¡ You find yourself justifying your opinions about certain groups of people with out-of-date information or vague perceptions about what they think or how they behave. ¡ You’re genuinely surprised when you enjoy a conversation with one of “those people.” Again, the goal in assessing your approach to making generalizations is to make you aware of how you approach your relationships. There is a time and a place for generalizing situations and people. Remember, we’re not espousing blind trust, but appropriate trust. This trust is stymied—and broken—by making rash assumptions and refusing to own your initial overgeneralizations. This trust is built by seeking to understand, refining expectations, and behaving accordingly. Your Capacity for Trust Changes over Time Your Capacity for Trust is dynamic. It expands and contracts based on your experiences and the situations in which you find yourself. You have the ability to expand your Capacity for Trust by EBSCOhost – printed on 11/17/2020 11:11 PM via THOMAS JEFFERSON UNIVERSITY – EAST FALLS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use 119 120 Trust and Betrayal in the Workplace applying the four questions just discussed to your relationships. You can choose to evolve in your understanding of the bigger picture of who, why, when, and how much people trust. And you can use this understanding to crack the code of your struggles to connect with others and with yourself. Trust is built through selfawareness and adjusting your practice of The Three Cs behaviors accordingly. Trust begins with you. Your Capacity for Trust expands and contracts based on your experiences and the situations in which you find yourself. Trust Building in Action Reflecting on Your Experience In order to understand how each of the four questions influences your Capacity for Trust, think about the following questions: 1. Why are some people willing to …
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