I’m sitting with a team in deadlock around the table avoiding eye contact. They know that trust is the issue; they know that they need to trust each other more but somehow they can’t move forward. There are invisible fingers pointing everywhere - “You have got to be more trustworthy before I can trust you. How CAN I trust you?” is the thought running through people’s heads.
We wander through corridors as blurred images to each other. We aren't really connecting as a team or people because we wonder....." How CAN I trust you?"
I see this situation in a number of ways with clients and it is because we NEED trust in order to operate in society. We do not exist in isolation. We need to trust each other at work because we often must work together and depend on each other to help us reach our objectives.
However everyone is waiting for the other person to magically prove themselves trustworthy without actually trusting them. It just can’t happen that way. Trust is essentially a leap of faith.
Firstly we need to trust ourselves first.
In coaching these people, I discovered a common theme that expressed itself in this way
“I don’t know if I could handle it. (if they broke my trust)”
This led me to investigate further using Brene Brown and Byron Katie’s insightful work. In working with these people, we learned to do this.
Trust yourself first.
Trust that you are “enough”.
Trust that you are “strong enough” to handle whatever happens.
Easier said than done, and in some cases you may want help in peeling back the layers. There are some basic starting places that we can all do.
How to trust yourself?
In my view trusting yourself begins with self awareness and then self compassion.
Keep promises to yourself. I mean it. (If you don’t have confidence that you will follow through, how on earth will you believe anyone else would?)
Keep a journal to get to know yourself and build your self awareness
Build self awareness of your strengths and limitations so you know your boundaries and what you can trust yourself with
Practice radical honesty with yourself without judgement. A journal is a good place to practice this as you can tend to be more objective when you write
Celebrate yourself and your wonderfulness by practicing gratitude for who you are (not just what you have)
Then people will ask "But if I trust too much, I will be taken advantage of..." Most people do worry about being deceived if they are too trusting. The interesting finding in a study by Carter and Weber (2010) found that people who trust more tend to be better at detecting lies. This is probably a result of greater self awareness and improved awareness of others. So have faith in your trust of yourself to see the world as it is.
Lastly, all is not lost, for trust increases with age according to a recent Northwesterm University study. As get older we tend to trust more easily and this leads to improved wellbeing.
For that team in deadlock, as they point invisible fingers at each other, they are pointing “three” invisible fingers back at themselves.
Look in the mirror, take a big breath and “Be the change you wish to see in the world" - Ghandi