When we want to lead someone or effectively collaborate with them, the role of trust in the relationship is paramount. An analogy that can be very powerful is the linking of building trust in a relationship to making “trust deposits” into a “trust piggy bank”. In this analogy, every time we do what we say we are going to do, offer encouragement, have a positive encounter or interaction, we make a trust deposit. Can you hear the coin clink?
It’s bound to happen at some point. Feedback which does not get delivered well, combined with different perspectives and filters, plus a bunch of stress generated from an impending deadline, and KABOOM! Whatever trust has been accumulated can evaporate as a hammer comes crashing down on the piggy trust bank! It can take years to fill the piggy trust bank and only a second to smash it to smithereens.
5 Ways to Make a Deposit in The Piggy Trust Bank:
1. Candor with Kindness
In the movie A Few Good Men, Jack Nicholson’s character yells, “You can’t handle the truth!” in the famous courtroom scene. The reality is that few of us can handle the truth if the truth is delivered in a blunt, mean-spirited, nasty, knife-turning or profane way. The fact that it’s the truth matters not. A leader and author who I have greatly admired for decades is John Maxwell. He says in his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership that
“Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand.”
This is such a great reminder of how important connection is to building trust. It is an emotional thing, and involves both hearts and minds. The mind without the heart puts the hammer in motion.
Listen to the other person to truly understand. God gave us two ears and one mouth, but you would never know it with some people. Pastor and speaker Robert Schuller once said, “Big egos have little ears.” We don’t want to listen to respond and we don’t want to be thinking about what we’re going to say. We need to listen to understand.
3. Understand, Appreciate, and Leverage Differences in others
The key to collaboration is effective combinations of people. If we just hang with people that are like us, our full potential will never be realized. Remember to be humble. The strengths you have are not better strengths than the strengths that other people have. Author and speaker Beth Moore recently Tweeted:
“If we only like people who are like us, it’s not even them we like. It’s ourselves. It’s just narcissism in a social mood. And it’s boring.”
People who see things from a different perspective will help us see things that we are blind to. This stretches us. Rather than become defensive, we remember to be humble and open. This allows the other person to have a positive impact on us and once again makes a deposit in the piggy trust bank. Clink!
4. Open Communication
Be authentic. Don’t tell someone you like something that you don’t. John Maxwell says:
“Speak the truth. Transparency breeds legitimacy.”
Holding something back that someone needs to hear is a form of passive aggressiveness. Be diplomatic, of course. If you are too worried about how you are going to look when you speak the truth, then you are focused on the wrong person. (Again, don’t forget about #1.)
5. Focus on the Pig Picture
(Don’t swing the hammer!)
Having a piggy trust bank that can survive a withdrawal is something that all healthy business relationships need to be able to do. This is why we need to have permission to give feedback before it is going to be received well. Tricky because this involves two people who each have to play dual roles successfully. It makes me recall my Introduction to Communication Class at Taylor University back in the Fall of 1982. My professor, mentor, and friend Dr. Jessica Rousselow-Winquist was at the front of the room explaining that “Communication is a interactive process which is two-way”. The two-way thing is definitely the tricky part. We play both the role of Sender and Receiver when we communicate and we can only control our parts. This is why it is kind of silly to point the finger at the other person when communication breaks down. Communication is a collaborative thing and so is trust.
So keep your eye on the pig picture (The big picture that the piggy trust bank represents). Hey, I realize it’s a little corny, but just try and forget the image…just try!. Besides, most of us remember Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web being not only “Some Pig” but also “Terrific”, “Radiant”, and “Humble”. We can learn a lot from Charlotte and Wilbur (Zuckerman’s Famous Pig).
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