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Sunday ideas on trust & healthy communication at work

In life we face new challenges again and again and lasting moments of tranquility are rare for most of us. And maybe this is a major aspect of what is considered 'suffering' for Buddhists, a state the human being is in for their whole life.

As modern human beings we are always building and creating something new, always seeking for the next level in things. And we're competing with other businesses or teams to be the ones who find the next big idea or niche to place our products. This is also part of our nature and I will not go into deeper analyzes of what crap is often successful in our markets. But I want to say: we only create something truly great with our team - this is the people we're working with closely. Therefore we need to feel great when working with them.

This text is about trust. And trust is the baseline for all our human interaction. Without trusting another human being, there is no development at all. And where there is no trust there is no help and no bonding. There is no execution of any business plan and I teach my students that the biggest success stories come from teams that developed a strong connection among each other and all together believe in whatever they are developing together. From the first day of the semester we're building trust in our group by getting to know each person in the class on different levels. Even being of a younger generation, the lack of trust in our German society is huge. But this is maybe a topic for another article. Let's get back to my Sunday thoughts.

Trust is created by being approachable and by being able to listen to your team members (or families) words, without judging (fast). Not judging can mean to unlearn strong reactions you used to show in situations, where something did not go the right way. Maybe you were shouting or trashing the person for their incompetence. Of course, you might be successful in closing the project, but did you do it the best way? Did you think of how to work with the people in the long run? Of their possible creative contributions towards your department and your business, if they stay involved and work longer in the company?

People with leading functions need to apply techniques to create open communication among the members of the team. Whether a leader chooses this or not: they are looked up to and a leader's behavior is key. Of course, she or he is not the only responsible in the process. Any team-member has their own share of responsibility when it comes to securing a healthy communication style that supports planning and executing great projects together. You should know: in a team, where members trust each other, people voluntarily walk the extra mile when needed. And this not only once.

An example of supporting trust: when a co-worker tells you that she or he isn't feeling motivated or down and therefore they aren't keeping up with their tasks, you can firstly thank the person for their trust and see what causes this feeling and how to work on this issue together. Trust can even go further and, depending on the situation, you may involve the team in problem solving process. So a leader's job is, among many things, to create an atmosphere where people can share openly.

Another example I can think of in this moment, is to allow people to point out mistakes, be it their own ones, those in the process (where the responsibility is shared by more people) or even yours. Let them know that it is OK to do so. Of course, there should be a consent to point out mistakes in a supportive manner and not in a way which causes embarrassment. We do not want to create an atmosphere of 'prosecutor & accused'. In the end you want to support openness to enhance collaboration.

Thank the person for pointing out the issue and then make a plan to solve it. Even if the issue was caused by you, and you still feel a bit embarrassed at your heart, forgive the other person for being sincere and forgive yourself for not having been aware enough to see the mistake yourself. Be brave and consider an honest apology where suited. This makes a truly great team leader, one people want to work with for longer, one I would respect. Wouldn't you as well?

By the way: there is some wonderful literature on these topics. When I read "The Culture Code" by Daniel Cole four years ago, I was so impressed that I believed, every person with a leadership function should read this book. And there is plenty of new research available on the market. Just search for it and read the reviews of others.

Have a great week ahead!

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