Pursue What Matters
Episode 111: Braving Trust
Please excuse any typos, transcripts are generated by an automated service
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
How do you actually build trust? You may understand this fuzzy topic, you may also really agree that it’s important and still feel kind of clueless about specific actions that you can take to cultivate trust. Well, my friend, this podcast is for you.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:19
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. So if you joined me last week, then you know, I talked about two big mistakes that so many of us often make when it comes to trust. And I gave you a couple of alternatives to overcoming those mistakes. So I will review those in just a minute. But if you haven’t had a chance to listen to last week’s podcast, you might want to check it out. So I link in the shownotes to that. So you can take a quick listen to that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 1:18
But today, as we think about trust, right, it’s such a fuzzy topic, it’s such a fuzzy term. To most of us, we know it’s really important. We believe that. But sometimes it’s hard to know how to actually build trust. So you know, sometimes the answers, the simple answers are okay, well just don’t lie. And yeah, that’s definitely good. That’s actually really important. But can we get more specific. So today, I have a really wonderful trust tool to help you really wrap your hands and your head around trust, and really build honest to goodness, trust in your relationships, both at home and work. Now, this tool is one that was designed specifically for relationships at work. But here’s the great news. It is just as effective, and just as applicable at home. And so my hope is that our discussion today and the tool that I have for you today will be really helpful for both love and work.
Dr. Melissa Smith 2:19
And so of course, every week with the podcast, my goal is to help you pursue what matters. by strengthening your confidence to lead. I do that in one of three ways, leading with clarity, leading with curiosity, and leading and building a community. So last week’s podcast was really focused on leading with curiosity. And you know, starting to examine some of your own beliefs about trust, maybe see how maybe you sometimes fall for these trust mistakes, and of course, how you can start to do things differently. And that really prepares us perfectly for the podcast today, which is really focused on leading and building a community.
Dr. Melissa Smith 2:57
Okay, so the very specific behaviors, that helps us to have a trust culture. And that helps us to have a growth culture, which of course is so important for so many reasons. So as a little review, of last week’s podcast, I talked about two mistakes that we often, so many of us often make when it comes to trust. So the first mistake is that we believe trust is all or nothing. So if I trust you in one area, I should trust you in every area. And that really is just a setup, because first of all, puts a lot of pressure on us, it can undermine our trust with ourselves. And it’s usually just not accurate, right? Because no one’s perfect. No one gets it right all the time. And so people in your life really run the risk of falling off of their pedestal. And so that’s not a great way to approach things. And so the alternative to the first mistake of all or nothing. Trust is contextual trust, recognizing that instead of asking, Can I trust you? The question really is, can I trust you with this? And we think about specific contexts, we think about specific situational factors. We think about nuance and specificity when it comes to trust, and that this is more sustainable and realistic for both us and others that we interact with and that we work with and live with every day.
Dr. Melissa Smith 4:27
And then the second mistake that so many of us fall victim to is we believe trust is earned in large moments and by big gestures, right? So it’s this idea of like I, you know, are you willing to lay down your life for me? Are you willing to make a huge sacrifice for me? And, you know, often these questions are fairly easy to answer, but they’re not very realistic and they’re not very helpful and that the reality is and the research absolutely supports this is that trust is earned in small moments. So we talked about these sliding door moments or these marble jar moments where we either cultivate trust or we erode trust. And that most often what gets in the way, you know, these missed opportunities to build trust is a result of mindlessness, you know, we’re just not present, we’re just not aware. And so that’s what we talked about last week. So that gives you a pretty solid foundation, as we now jump into a couple of things that can really help you.
Dr. Melissa Smith 5:33
So I have two solutions. The first is a specific tool or inventory. And we’re going to spend a lot of time helping you understand that it’s very specific, I think it’s really very practical, I use it all the time. I use it with the teams that I lead the, the leaders that I work with, and they tend to find it very helpful. And then I have another solution based on the research is a little more straightforward, but also kind of challenging, right? Whenever we’re working in the area of trust, we have vulnerability. And so even though a lot of these things can feel and sound very straightforward. When it gets to the human heart, it’s not always that simple. But having that understanding that awareness, and the commitment can really make all the difference. And with so many of these trusting skills, it’s practice, right? Like we practice over time, and we become more consistent over time. And, and hopefully the folks in our lives give us a some generosity of spirit and some grace in that learning process.
Dr. Melissa Smith 6:43
So the first solution that I want to share with you is known as the braving trust, inventory, okay, and when we think about breathing, trust, breathing is all caps, because it is an acronym and who doesn’t love an awesome acronym. And so this tool comes to us from Dr. Brené Brown, and her really groundbreaking research that her book Dare to Lead is based on, I will link to that book in the show notes, so you can check it out. I’ll link to her website, so you can learn more about it if you are interested. But this is a tool that she developed based on this research of the most courageous leaders and teams. So the these things that we’re going to talk about today on this BRAVING trust inventory are what the most courageous and successful leaders and teams do every single day, okay. And this inventory is really designed to help you understand trust in detail in the small moments, right, those sliding door moments, those marble jar moments, so that you can have more success. And so you know what, what Brené Brown found is that trust is such a gauzy word, right? It’s just so fuzzy, that we really, people really have a hard time wrapping their wrapping their hands around it, and it’s hard to have conversations about it. And so she developed this acronym braving to help people talk about these seven elements of trust. And the real focus, again, I’ve said this two or three times is really important is that we get behavioral and we get specific, right? This is this is where we go from a gauzy fuzzy term to actionable steps that that absolutely make a difference in the way you live in work.
Dr. Melissa Smith 8:36
So let’s get going straight out the gate with B, okay, B stands stands for boundaries. And so this is where we think about setting boundaries and making clear what is okay and what is not. Okay, okay, and why. So, you know, I am a zealot about boundaries, boundaries are necessary in absolutely every relationship we have. I’ve done a podcast on this topic, but boundaries signal the separation between you and another person. So of course, your boundaries may be more diffused with some individuals say maybe a close family member or your partner, whereas your boundaries would likely be more structured with someone you don’t know as well. And so boundaries in a very real way, set the ground rules for psychological safety in a relationship and they are foundational, foundational to the establishment of self. So the questions that we ask with boundaries include, what do I need here? And who am I separate from you? Okay, so that’s what we’re thinking about when we think about boundaries.
Dr. Melissa Smith 9:49
Second is R. R stands for reliability. And boy, this one’s a big one at work. So when we think about reliability, it’s this idea that you will do what You say you will do, of course, right? This means at work that you stay aware of your strengths and your limitations, so that you don’t over promise and under deliver, right? And so that you can follow through on commitments and tasks and responsibilities. Okay. And so, you know, like the example of John Gottman sliding door moments that I talked about last week, and is, you know, the marble jar moments. And it is that this idea that trust really is built in small moments. And so the questions here with reliability include, can I rely on you? And will you do what you say? So one way that this reliability shows up in terms of trust building, or trust, erosion, is communicating about where you’re at, on a project or a commitment or a task. So when there is radio silence from team members, team members, right, this becomes a major reliability issue. And in a very real way, it erodes trust on teams. And so the message that I always share, you may be heard, if you’re a regular listener, and I talk about it all the time with my team, is when in doubt, over communicate, right? So yes, it can be a hassle, your teammates may roll their eyes, but you know what, they will also trust you and know that they can rely on you that you’re going to keep them updated on things. And so when it comes to reliability, do what you say you’re going to do, if your memory is bad, write it down, close the loop, follow through communicate. And so you know, you might know where you’re at, on a process. But if you’re not communicating, others don’t know it leaves others hanging, it can be incredibly frustrating. And it can kick kick up those questions of trust, like, Can I count on this person? Like, are they figuring it out? Are they are they off, you know, at the beach, or something. And so it’s so important to communicate as part of reliability.
Dr. Melissa Smith 12:11
Okay, now, let’s look at a, a is accountability. So reliability and accountability are related terms, but they are not the same thing. And so when we think about accountability, it is really owning your mistakes, apologizing, if you’ve if you’ve messed something up, and making amends. And so you know, when it comes to accountability, you want to consider the ways that you are owning your part in a situation, which for most of us can be really hard to do. As humans, we are really wired to defend and to protect ourselves. And so when there is an issue that comes up, our inclination is to blame, to defend, to deflect, we’re pretty darn good at it. But what is true is that in life, you know, very rarely are there heroes and villains, right? Like we’re all just trying to do our best. And so if you find yourself feeling victimized, it’s really time to take a look at how you might be having difficulty taking accountability. And so that can that might feel kind of hard, but I think it is a realistic way to really pay attention to accountability and owning our part. And so the questions with accountability include, are you taking responsibility? And do you own your part?
Dr. Melissa Smith 13:45
Okay, so now let’s learn about vault. So with the vault, right, this sometimes feel like what does this mean? So think about what goes in a vault, whatever it is, right? If it’s important, if it’s valuable, it is protected in a vault. And so what Bernie brown means when she talks about the vault is this idea that you don’t share information or experiences that are not yours to share. Right? And so we need to know that we can say what we need to say, and that’s not going to be used against us. That’s not going to be gossiped about. And so this idea of confidentiality, and privacy is so important, especially at work, boy, this, you know, this can get super messy at work when we don’t respect the vault. Okay? And so the key here is to not share information or experiences that are not yours to share. Right? Even if you have the best of intentions, when you share information that is not yours to share, you erode trust, okay, and this can happen in very benign ways that still erode trust, right? Maybe someone in the office has good news. But they’ve only shared it with one person. And they said, Please don’t share it. But here’s the thing, everyone loves having information. Everyone loves having a little bit of power in these situations. And so sometimes you know it, even though your friend or your colleague asked you not to say something, sometimes it’s like, but I’m so excited. And I want to be, I want to be the one who shares this, because it is exciting, and I’m really happy for you. But that kind of behavior, even when it’s good information, right? Even when it’s not backbiting, it’s not gossipy, it’s not negative, even that behavior erodes trust, because you were asked not to share it, it’s not your information to share. And so I see this one happen all the time with organizations, I see this happen within my organization as well, right, like people are excited, they, you know, they’re just chatting. And so they don’t, they don’t always slow themselves down long enough to think, oh, that’s not my information to share.
Dr. Melissa Smith 16:10
So we really need to be mindful of this. And so right, slowing yourself down and asking, Is this my information to share? If not, don’t do it, don’t share it. It also means, of course, not joining in on gossip or conversations that are disrespectful to others, right? So of course, it means not participating in these conversations, but also not tolerating them. So if you hear these kinds of conversations happening, if you hear this kind of backbiting, back channeling, gossiping, are you willing to stand up? Are you willing to say, Hey, you know what, you guys need to have that meeting? Or you need to have that conversation in the meeting, if you have concerns, have it in the meeting? Because of course, this brings up questions of trust, right? Like, if you’re talking about them, behind their back, What on earth are you saying about me? And so of course, this is more than just not saying things about others, is also not tolerating this kind of behavior from others. And so if you have something to say, say it to their face, call out back channeling behavior to say, Hey, this is not a very effective use of our time. We can say Don’t talk to me about this. Now, if you have a problem, bring it to the meeting, right? And all of these things are boundaries, right? Which is what we started out with. And so the questions when we consider the vault, include, is this my information to share? And are you talking about me, right? So this this, this privacy of information is a two way street. And we really do want to respect the vault.
Dr. Melissa Smith 17:51
Okay, and now let’s move to integrity. And you know, Brené Brown teaches that integrity is about choosing courage over comfort, it’s choosing what’s right over what’s fun, fast or easy. And boy, that can be hard. Sometimes. It includes practicing your values, not just professing them. And so are you really living to your values, even though it’s difficult, even though it’s painful, even though it’s uncomfortable. And so that’s what we really want to pay attention to with integrity. And I think, you know, for sure most of us would claim integrity as a value. But here’s the thing, and this is what I see time and time again, we fail to appreciate how we can slip outside of this value, right? It happens in these small moments, right, these small marble jar moments. And so the ways that I most often see a lack of integrity, showing up includes through people pleasing through so we say what, what others want to hear, even though we are not being honest with ourselves, right? Like if we undermine our own integrity, when we people please that is huge. That is such a big factor that we see. The other way that I see this showing up is through doing what is expedient, right? doing what’s convenient, doing what’s comfortable, over what is right, right, over what is consistent with our values. And as a result, we end up cutting corners on our values.
Dr. Melissa Smith 19:31
So you know, a way that I’ve seen this show up is a white lie. And and, you know, a white lie around a work situation and it’s like, oh, well, it just felt like it was going to be a hassle. And it’s like, okay, but do you see what’s happening here like you’re really undermining your integrity, for the sake of convenience for the sake of avoiding a hassle and we cannot cut those corners on our values, like that’s a big deal. And so to be able to see that clearly, and make sure that you are living up to that value of integrity. Now let’s move to non judgement. Okay, wait, I don’t think I did my questions for integrity. So the two questions that were asking with integrity include, do you keep your word? And do you live your values? Right? Like, if I watched you, as I observed you what I know what your values are. And for most of us, right, like for all of us, we would want the answer to be yes. And so that’s what we’re thinking about when we think about integrity.
Dr. Melissa Smith 20:41
Okay, so now we’re ready for non judgement, which is, of course, n. So, Brown teaches us that we can ask for what we need. And the other person can ask for what they need. So we can talk about how we feel without judgment. And so you know, this is where I think we really want to address the issue at hand, without blaming without shaming, without storytelling, because when we get to storytelling, right, we start making up stories in our head, about the situation at hand. That’s where we really run the risk of moving in to judgment. And so you know, a while ago, we had a team member who inadvertently used business credit card to make a personal purchase. And this, this team member did not realize it, but I did I saw it. And of course, you know, my first response was to be quite alarmed, and to ask, oh, my goodness, what’s going on? And if I wasn’t careful, right to jump right into storytelling, like, oh, my goodness, this person is stealing money from the business. And, you know, just totally freaking out if I wasn’t careful, but I’m proud to say that I didn’t freak out. And so you know, as we think about these types of situations, right, like, concerns are inevitably going to come up, people don’t always get things right. None of us are perfect. And so you know, can you ask about the concern with curiosity, rather than with judgment, right? Without that freaking out? Because, of course, if you go to someone with a concern, and you’re in a place of judgment, or you’re in a place of hostility, or you’re even in a place of high stress, that’s going to set off alarm bells for the other person, right? It’s, they’re very highly likely to get very defensive, and it makes problem solving much more difficult.
Dr. Melissa Smith 22:41
Okay, and so. And, of course, that’s what we did, we realized what the mistake was. And then of course, we talked about some guardrails, to really make sure that that sort of thing doesn’t ever happen again. And so we need to address the issue without blaming and shaming. And this one also really relates to communicating expectations, clearly, what is and is not acceptable. Right. And, and then, of course, sticking to the issue at hand and staying out of storytelling. And so the questions here, with no judgment, include, can you stick to the concern? And do you stay out of storytelling, so that we don’t add drama to concerns, right, there will always be challenges, there will always be concerns. But we don’t need to add drama. And when we get into storytelling and judging, that’s when we add drama, and we undermine problem solving. So we don’t want to do that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 23:44
Okay, and now we have G with G, we are paying attention to generosity. So Brown teaches us that we really want to extend the most generous interpretation to the intentions, the words and the actions of others, right. And we certainly want that for ourselves. And so we need to be willing to give that Okay, so most of us assume our own good intention, but we don’t give others the same benefit. Okay. So when you have a challenge or a situation, that might be difficult, it’s so incredibly important to remind yourself that the other person probably has good intent and that you want to have good intent. And so one of the things that I often remind myself of, and this is a little mantra that I use, I talk about it with those I work with, is I remind myself to trust, the strength of the relationship, when things are hard when things are uncertain when things are painful. Trust the strength of the relationship to see you through this challenging situation. And that can be very helpful and so the questions here with generosity include, do you give good intent? Right? So do you give good intent to others? And do you assume others good intent for you? And when we can approach a situation or a challenge with yes to both of those questions, you know, we’re much more likely to, you know, get to resolution or get to understanding, right, there’s not always a perfect solution or resolution, but we can get to understanding and we can know, of the good intent of one another. And so that’s what we have for the BRAVING trust inventory.
Dr. Melissa Smith 25:39
So I’m just going to review those one more time. And then we’ve got one other small solution that I want to share with you in terms of how we can get really specific about building trust at work. So as a review, the breathing trust inventory includes B boundaries, R reliability, A accountability, V vault, I integrity, N non-judgement, and G generosity. And I hope that you will find that this can be a really helpful tool for you, and your teams, as you really break down the details of trust.
Dr. Melissa Smith 26:19
And now I have one other solution for you. And this can be really very helpful. And that is to ask for help at work, right? You can also do that at home, that’s awesome as well. But this also comes from Brené Browns, Dare to Lead research. Why might it be important to ask for help at work? So when Brené did her research, she and her team, right, like they asked all of these questions. And what they found is that the number one way to build trust at work, is to ask for help. That’s pretty powerful. Right? And so I have asked this question of why do you think that is, of so many leaders, I’ve been, you know, doing a lot of trust work with leaders across the country, and in large groups. And so I’ve asked them, Why do you think asking for help is the number one way to build trust. And, you know, the wonderful leaders I’ve had an opportunity to work with and speak with have shared a lot of wisdom. And it really does reinforce what Brené and her team found, right? And it’s this idea that I know, you’ll reach out if you have a question that you don’t assume that you have all the answers, you won’t try to go it alone, right, and a recognition that we all depend on one another, to be successful. This builds trust. It’s also part of vulnerability, right? Like vulnerability and trust, happen in a stepwise process, right.
Dr. Melissa Smith 27:56
So we, we are vulnerable, we build trust, we’re vulnerable, we build trust. And so asking for help at work is an act of vulnerability. It’s an acknowledgement that you don’t have it all figured out. It’s also an acknowledgement of the respect that you have for your colleagues to help you out. And so I think that is a lovely solution for us to keep in mind. And we can all do that. It can feel vulnerable. But that is a really wonderful way that we can build trust. And so I hope that these, these solutions are helpful for you. As we really break down the specifics of trust building, of course, we have the breathing trust inventory, which is a very helpful tool that comes to us from the research of Dr. Brené Brown.
Dr. Melissa Smith 28:47
And then the second solution is asking for help at work. And that again, also comes from her groundbreaking research. And so if you have interest in learning more about dare to lead, I am a certified dare to lead facilitator, I’d love to have a conversation with you about this, I will link to my consultation link on my website. If you have an interest in learning more about dare to lead or you’re thinking about maybe bringing this training into your organization, I’d love to talk with you and and see how how that curriculum could be useful for you and your team.
Dr. Melissa Smith 29:25
So in the meantime, head on over to my website where you can find that link. I will also link to the Dare to Lead hub on Brené Browns website. And then I will also link to episode 110 which is Are You Making These Trust Mistakes? And so head on over to my website for the show notes and all of these resources by going to www.drmelissasmith.com/bravingtrust one more time. That’s www.drmelissasmith.com/bravingtrust. So I hope that this can be helpful for you. And I’d love to get your feedback. I’d love for you to review the podcast, it helps more people to find me so that, you know I can help more individuals pursue what matters. I’m passionate about this. And if you enjoy the podcast, I would, I would so appreciate you taking a minute to add a review either on iTunes or Spotify, that is very helpful. So I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
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