Thursday 14 January 2016

Do You Listen Well Enough To Build Trust?

Here's the second in our series of posts about trust and its role in improving and developing communication. Before we continue, I'd like you to consider how you feel when you know you are not being listened to? It's a complete turn off isn't it ?

Here are Twenty One Ways to “Up Your Listening Game!”

1. Focus on what’s being said and switch you inner thoughts off. This is a great skill to acquire and use: it creates space for you to really take in what is being said without “scripting the next thing you want to say” as you do.

2. Stay switched on and you can do this by not mentally planning what to say next. This follows on from the above: when we’re planning our response we’re not listening-and it shows!

3. We are often tempted to label people on the basis of what they've said-this will get in the way of good listening . Who people remind you of, the way you've responded to this sort of thing in the past can get in the way of good listening.  So can “negative bias”, it is part of  above: because we've associated words used or the way in which they are said with our negative images, we donate the associations to the person we’re now with.

4. Suspend your existing knowledge of and beliefs about the person to whom you are listening because of you don’t, you’ll be listening to yourself affirming what you believed before the conversation started. This cuts down on the chances of you hearing the message in the context in which it is delivered. Without this you can limit your capacity to accept that people are open to new ideas and might want to change. 

5. Interruptions don’t help!  Honestly, they don’t.  Give some thought to how you feel when you’re interrupted…. 

6. Let the other person develop their train of thought. Not always easy but always valuable. We sometimes have to create time, space and cues for this to happen. 

7. Keep the eye contact in place and not too intense-it sends out all the wrong signals-honestly! Over focusing on the eyes is, generally speaking either about attraction or aggression. You can triangulate your gaze between the upper eyes and above the chin of the person with whom you are in conversation. 

8. Good non-verbal attention matters. We can think about how people express themselves with their hands.  We can be on the lookout for fidgeting, looking away, looking downwards and inwards.

9. If someone’s body language has changed, it’s for a reason-be aware, it can help you to frame a helpful question/suggestion. It shows that you are building rapport
  •  “I wonder if I could (ask you a question/suggest?) is a good way of re-engaging when you've picked up on a change followed up by
  •  “Tell me where you are with this right now?”

10. External distractions are just that. They are external and distracting. (We’re not including unscheduled fire alarms here)

11. Avoid sticking your own labels on already crowded surfaces; “Well, what can you expect from….”Keep open and focused.

12. There is a place for preaching and it’s not here!

13. If you’re coming up with a diagnosis, you’re probably not listening to the patient! a. Given time and space, the speaking and listening process increases the speakers opportunity to discover what needs to change/ be done.

14. Clich├ęs have their place and role-they can appear to close off discussion and leave people feeling unheard and sometimes patronised

15. Other concerns and worries are just that-they are never irrelevant . They form part of the person's day to day experience of life

16. No matter how tempting, there are times when telling people that “It’s not worth bothering about” it trivializes their concerns and may inhibit their confidence in expressing themselves . If it matters, it matters! We can ask questions along the lines of “How important do you think this will be in ……… (days/week/months etc..) We shouldn't however underplay the significance of concerns to the person who is affected by them.

17. False re-assurance is unhelpful, particularly if you’re in no position to legitimately offer it. “Oh don’t worry, that’ll never happen” is only valid if you are the person who was going to make “it” happen and have decided not to!  Otherwise we need to consider the points raised in 16 above.  We need too to be aware of our credibility given that we might not have the fullest of pictures of the day to day challenges and experiences of the person we are working with.

18. Show patience-use para verbals  when people are taking time to develop their points . We use them nearly all of the time!

19. Collusion with the unacceptable is unacceptable. We present ourselves as positive role models. It is a standard that we must not let slip: our credibility goes with it!

20. Accept that there are occasions when you may have to work quite hard to truly understand how people feel. a. Understanding the day-to day experiences, ambitions and challenges of others is hard going. However, we meet our colleagues “Where they are.” We need to accept that isn't where we would like them to be!

21. Accept that there are times when you won’t understand how other people feel-offer them an affirmation “I can tell how strongly you feel about that.” It gives them an option to further explain and, should they not wish to so do, it’s a positive way of exiting the impasse. 

If you'd like to find out more about the work we do on developing Trust and Building you can talk to us on 07984409937 or by email 

Tuesday 12 January 2016

Do You Communicate "Trust" Because You Merit Trustworthiness?


 "A firm belief in the reliability of truth, or ability of someone to do something"

Trust: maybe it's one of those concepts that is easier to feel and experience than to describe. An elusive commodity that's hard to gain and easy to lose, its absence is easily recognisable and keenly felt. So, how much time do we devote to considering how we present ourselves in a manner that communicates trustworthiness?

We need to be clear about our motives for wanting trust. Isn't the strength of every huckster and con-artist the ability to build acceptance and belief? At a much more sinister and serious level, targets of abuse are "groomed in order to trust" thus building an increase in compliance and a decrease in resistance.

We have available to us a number of devices and props that enable us to project an image of potential trustworthiness. The right smart-phone, appearance and mannerisms that reinforce our sometimes dangerous preconceived images of the pieces of the puzzle that says "trust me" all contribute to the seemingly capricious nature of trust.

"False must hide what false heart doth know" 

Macbeth.. Act 1: . Macbeth has finally been convinced that he should kill the King-the King (who trusts him..)

Maybe we are right to hold back on trust and to be suspicious of those who seem to over-work a "You can trust me" message. our evolutionary success is after all partly attributable to a default position that is watchful and wary.

So how as we connect with others:

  • Do we build trust and in so doing become the stewards of our own trustworthiness?
  • Maintain stewardship of our organisational values at in a variety of groups, sub groups and informal exchanges?
  • Should our commitment to trust building might be based on a sense of personal authenticity that is enacted in our dealings with others?
We are going to follow up this article with some ideas around how we can encourage communication that supports trust building and the stewardship of values: it would be great to hear your comments and observations.

We are happy to talk to you about how our work might help you and your colleagues identify how you develop trust as individuals, groups and teams. Contact us or by calling us on 07984409937