July 2022
The Leading Edge
The Importance of Trust in Business


The Importance of Trust in Business

The following extract is from Building Trust: Exceptional Leadership in an Uncertain World by Darryl Stickel. Published this month by Forefront Books and distributed by Simon and Schuster.

Trust. It’s a simple word, one we all think we understand. It underpins all human connection, from our impersonal daily interactions with strangers to our most intimate and long-lasting personal relationships. It is a priceless commodity that is becoming rarer by the day. Take a moment and think about someone you trust unreservedly: perhaps your mother or father, your spouse, sibling, child, family doctor, pastor, or mentor. Now think about how much you really trust them. Is that trust absolute, or is it conditional? As in, “I trust them with my life, but I wouldn’t trust them to pay me back if they borrowed $5,000.”

Now, think about how much you trust politicians, the police, the people that managed the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, climate change advocates and naysayers, or the anchors on CBC, BBC, CNN, Fox News, or other media sources. Trust can be complicated, and a lot depends on your personal perspective. For instance, if you had been a Black person in 2020 in the United States, on a scale of one to ten how comfortable would you be if you were pulled over late at night by white police officers?

On a broader scale, trust, or its absence, is an underlying critical factor in how society deals with its biggest and hairiest challenges. The problem is that most of us have a feeling about trust but lack a deep understanding. We don’t know whom to trust, who trusts us, or what it really means to trust or be trusted, nor do we know how to decide whom to trust (or not).

While there is a growing understanding that in today’s world there is a lack of trust, few people understand the role it plays in the function or dysfunction of personal relationships or larger societal issues. This absence, and its impact, is highlighted when multiple police officers are accused and charged with murder close to where you live. Or when a virus roams the earth indiscriminately infecting people and your chances of contracting the disease, or dying, is dependent on where you live—or more to the point, who is governing you.

In this chapter we look at the global trust crisis, but we need to be aware that historically low levels of trust in society also challenge the corporate environment. There is a trickle-down effect that will affect your business at every level. Like most challenges, this trust crisis also presents an incredible opportunity for those who are able to get it right. Those who are able to effectively build trust will be seen as offering a safe harbor, an environment that provides reduced levels of uncertainty and where vulnerabilities don’t feel as significant. The result is a place where customers want to do business and will share and recommend to their friends, an organization that both attracts and retains the best people, an institution that is seen as a thought leader whose opinions have weight.

Big, hairy problems are knocking at the door, and we all need to become aware of trust and the role it plays in our ability to address these problems—or not.

The Importance of Trust in Business


Problem Solving Using Critical Thinking

We all run into challenges and issues from time to time in our businesses; it comes with the territory. The way we deal with these situations determines whether we come out the other side stronger or exacerbate the problem. Critical thinking comes into its own on these occasions.

Critical thinking involves analyzing and developing possibilities, comparing and contrasting several solutions, improving and refining ideas, making effective decisions and judgments, and providing a sound foundation for effective action.

The first step, therefore, is to understand your challenge. Look at the situation from every angle, and break it down into its component parts. What mess are you in? Identify external factors that will impact the trials you face or will be facing. Become familiar with every aspect. Recognize any potential spinoff issues. Think about the law of unintended consequences.

Collect information. Take a step back and look at the big picture. Talk to everyone involved and get their take on the “mess.” What don’t you know that would help you find a solution? Make a list. What or who caused the situation?

Write down a description of your problem. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you know exactly what the issue is; that leads to tunnel vision. Look at the situation from an outsider’s perspective. Are there multiple parts to the problem? Think of yourself as an outside consultant and write a short report identifying and analyzing the situation.

Seek solutions or strategies that might solve the problem or mitigate its damaging effects. Bring a team of people together to brainstorm ideas that might tackle the issue. Initially, avoid evaluating ideas; focus on quantity, not quality. Do a deep dive into each solution once you have identified several ways to extricate yourself from the situation. Before you meet, ask someone to play devil’s advocate. Their job is to challenge ideas and assumptions and make people see beyond easy solutions. If the situation is complex and wide-ranging, triage it and deal with the most urgent fallout first.

Identify a potential solution quickly and then dig deeper. Actively listen to what every team member is saying before contributing your ideas. Generate a variety of criteria and select the most important for your problem. Is it cost, practicality, time involvement, human resources, expertise, or other factors? Consider its pros and cons. Don’t get attached to any specific solution at this stage. Focus on disapproving it, not proving it. Do this for multiple potential solutions if necessary. In this way, you'll be able to identify and evaluate the relative strengths and weaknesses of various possible solutions. Don’t rush decision-making. Always sleep on any decision—let the idea percolate.

Once you have a solution, identify what skills and expertise you need to execute your plan. Determine what kind of help you'll need, what obstacles or difficulties might get in the way, and what specific short and long-term steps you will take to get yourself out of that original mess.

The Importance of Trust in Business


Coach's Corner - Ideas On Having Difficult Conversations

One of the things that worries many of us is having a difficult conversation. Whether the conversation is with a family member, a friend or someone at work, such as a boss, co-worker or employee, it is always a concern. We often avoid these conversations; we feel afraid of repercussions and causing bad feelings.

However, there are times when these difficult conversations are necessary—for instance, talking to a co-worker about the quality of their work or when they are late for meetings, asking a friend to repay a loan, giving unfavourable feedback, or approaching a boss about an unfair policy or decision.

Here are some things to consider before launching into a difficult conversation.

  1. What happened, and how is it affecting you?
  2. You can decide whether a conversation is necessary by identifying the issue and your thoughts and feelings about it. Ask yourself. How important is this to me? What outcome do I want or expect from a conversation?
  3. Once you decide to have the conversation, you need to share your side of the story with the other person. Explain, from your perspective, what happened. State your observations and how the situation affected you. Use statements such as, “When you did this, I felt this,” to show the consequences of the other person’s actions.
  4. It is essential then to get their view of the situation. Listen carefully to what they say. Everyone has a unique perspective and understanding of the same situation.
  5. At this point, you and the other person should identify whether there is indeed a problem or if there has been a simple misunderstanding.
  6. Work toward a solution through respectful dialogue if there is still a problem. Consider what you and the other person want to achieve by the end of the conversation. What will a resolution look like, and what can you both learn from it?

Difficult conversations are uncomfortable; they often bring stress and anxiety. Remember, the longer they are put off, the more anxious and stressed-out you will become.

Ask yourself, “what will happen if I don’t have this difficult conversation?”

Paul Abra, Motivated Coaching


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