How consistently do your deeds and behaviour prove you “walk the walk” and that you deserve trust and respect? As a person? As a parent? As an employee? As a leader?
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How do you know that you can trust somebody? How would they know that they can trust you? What is it that makes us trust someone? And what about respect? If you respect someone, does that also mean that you can trust them? These are some of the questions I would like to deal with this week.
What do these words mean? Thesaurus defines respect as: to consider worthy of esteem; to regard with honour.
It defines trust as: assured resting of the mind on the integrity, veracity, justice, friendship, or other sound principle, of another person.
Where does trust and respect come from?
So a new manager gets appointed. Does their appointment and the responsibilities they are designated make you trust and respect them? I have learned that respect is often initially present given what the person must usually have “brought to the party” to earn the appointment.
But trust? I think most employees will need a little time to observe the new leader before they form a sufficiently good opinion of whether he or she is in fact trustworthy. That will require some form of proof or evidence witnessed in their approach or attitude or behaviour and over a period of time that gives people sufficient insight into the integrity of the leader, right?
A title or leadership position designation only carries you so far. Initially people have to follow you because of the hierarchy – the pecking order, but over time they will only follow you because of who you are and what you represent. They might need to respect you because of that designation, but only over time do they learn that they can or can’t trust you as a person and as a leader. They observe and learn that you do what you say you will. And your consistent behaviour allows that to grow into trust. Both are a prerequisite for leadership – for the leader to lead and for the led to allow them to be led.
I call that their “track record” over a period of time in which they consistently show that they are true to their word, that they can and have done what they said they would. That they can be relied upon. That they treat others with the same honour and respect they want to be treated with. That they are seen as fair. Consistently.
The Trust Triangle
In my blog The Trust Triangle I spoke about existing trust and respect between two people (A and B) being transferred to a third party (C) that one of the two (say A) also has a trust and respect relationship with. I spoke about the trust triangle only working if all parties “deliver” to each of their expectations, particularly B. That if B fails to deliver it will affect the trust and respect relationship of all three. And if B delivers, C will willingly refer him on to others in his network based on firstly A’s recommendation coming with trust implied but more importantly because of his or her recent personal experience confirming him or her worthy of that trust.
This is where the words consistency and reliability come in. Trust takes experiences over a period of time when patterns of behaviour can emerge that “prove” to you that you can trust me. They are often a collection of little behavioural examples that emanate from respectful behaviour that build upon each other to form a consistent picture of delivery to expectation.
People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Lou Holtz, famous former Notre Dame Football coach says there are 3 universal questions everyone wants to answer when they meet you:
a) Can I trust you?
b) Are you committed to your craft – committed to excellence?
c) Do you care about me as a person?
For me, that is Australianised” in terms of “are you fair dinkum?”
Can I respect someone without trusting them? Absolutely. I have enormous respect for Bill Gates for what he has achieved. But how do I know if I can personally trust him? That would need some personal level exposure for me to come to that conclusion, wouldn’t it?
Trust and Respect
I believe trust grows out of respect. Both can only be earned over a period of time, when consistency of behaviour proves you “walk the walk”. If you “talk the talk” but don’t deliver, respect might wane and certainly trust and won’t follow, will it?
It is just as important and just as applicable in terms of the trust and respect people can have for you even if you aren’t in a leadership position. Your friends, family, peers and your clients are looking for the same behavioral evidence. Betray that and a critical ingredient of your success as an individual and as a professional is severely undermined and you will have to work very hard to correct that. That again is only possible over a period of time.
Trusted and respected professionals and leaders have a proven track record that they consistently do what they said they would, and don’t break promises no matter how large or small. That is also what I consider to be an important tenet of integrity.
They show consistency in the treatment of employees and others around them. We are all different, so it isn’t realistic (or desirable) that we are all treated the same way. But we need to see dependability and consistency in treating people with respect.
However, trust and respect is a two way street. Respect must also be given in order to gain it. You can’t expect to earn your leaders trust and respect if they can’t earn yours. The word trustworthy refers here. It is also disrespectful to circumvent the authority of the managers you report to.
Like in diplomacy, trust and respect are not weaknesses. They are one of the cornerstones of integrity and character. Part of what you stand for. It is not about popularity, but a genuine will to lead and behave “at cause” and to become known to “do the right thing”.
Trust and respect is about honouring others, just as we expect to be honoured for who we are and what we stand for. Just because someone is young or new doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to be shown respect. Conversely, just because someone is senior or “old” doesn’t necessarily mean that they automatically earn respect. But it’s a good place to start, wouldn’t you say?
In my soft skills grooming and training, trust and respect forms an integral pre-requisite part of most modules. Active listening suggests the person being listened to has something to say that is worth listening to – respect. Being completely listened to is rare today and such behaviour, particularly with clients, helps build trust.
My clients learn that diplomacy means being assertive (not aggressive) but communicating with a language and demeanour and an approach that can engender trust and respect. Genuineness or authenticity comes out of your eyes and your body language and is visible in your attitude and behaviour and above all in your track record. This is what clients are looking for, and remember please that many of these “signals” are observed unconsciously.
In my advanced communication skills, rapport plays a massive part of very elegantly building influence. Rapport is a state of trust and responsiveness between two or more people. You know how when having met and come into instant strong rapport with someone you feel “like you have known them all your life”? The existence of trust.
My networking and negotiation skills grooming also focuses heavily on building trust with the other party. To me trust and respect become part of our influence that make it worthy and desirable to pursue building trust out of respect in whichever way we can. But not contrived or manipulative. Through consistent genuine attitude, approach and behaviour.
Accepting people for whom and what they are provides an initial basis for non judgmental behaviour. I give people the benefit of the doubt and I trust and respect and honour people until they give me a reason not to.
We expect that from our leaders, don’t we? Do we always behave the same way? Can people always expect that from you? All of the above traits we expect of our leaders are what your clients and your stakeholders can and do expect from you as professionals. How can leaders expect their employees to treat their clients with trust and respect if they don’t treat their employees with trust and respect?
So have a think about your past week. Just allow yourself to reflect on your interactions during the week. Where was your behaviour or attitude one of engendering trust and respect? Where may you have fallen short of some of the “rules” discussed above?
And with this awareness of trust and respect and how it can and should influence your relationships, what can you focus on to do differently this week? What if you could?