Relationships: Where Trust is Built

By Matt Zobrist

I am not an astronomer nor an astrophysicist. I like learning about space, technology and am an avid sci-fi buff. So, I was reading about the fact that scientist have recently reclassified SIMP J01365663+0933473 from a Brown Dwarf Star, to a large planet (about 13 times bigger than Jupiter), even though is not orbiting a star. Stunning, right? You may not care, and I don’t blame you. But here is why I tell that brief, but possibly boring story: When I read it I immediately thought to myself, “I should contact Dr. Armstrong to verify this?”

Doctor Armstrong happens to be someone I knew in high school. He is a PhD, astronomer that I reconnected with over social media. I wasn’t his close friend in high school and we haven’t spoken in person or on the phone, well… ever. So, why was he the first person I felt could call to verify the work of a full research team published in the Astrophysical Journal? Why did I think that if I needed to confirm what I read on and I should contact an acquaintance from high school to verify it?

The simple answer is this: I have a relationship – however weak – with Dr. Armstrong. As humans, we tend to trust people with whom we have relationships. If I had several astrophysicist friends, I would have to decide who I trusted the most to answer my question. Or ask all of them and see if there was consensus. As it stands, I only have one. Even though our relationship is distant and weak, I would ask him rather than Google it.

This works in all areas of our lives. Buying a car? You ask people you know who drive that one already. Kids need diapers? You talk to someone who already went through that. Looking for a dentist or doctor? You check with friends and co-workers. We inherently have higher trust in information from someone we have a relationship than from other sources.

Because people trust those who they have relationships with, it is paramount as a leader to cultivate honest and open relationships with your team members. They will have an easier time trusting you when they know you. Take opportunities to build relationships with other people by talking to them about their families, their hobbies, and their life outside of work. Be interested in them as people and remember what they tell you. Celebrating their birthdays and special occasions will show that you care about them, not just their performance. PRO TIP: write this stuff down! Very few of us have photographic memories, so take notes. After a while, remembering personal things will become easier.

As you take time and effort to connect with people about non-work-related topics your relationships will grow. As your relationships strengthen, their trust in you will increase. Your role and ability to lead will become clearer and more defined, you will be more effective, and your team more productive.

Here’s a simple trust litmus test is this: Do they ask for your opinion instead of using the internet?

Matt Zobrist from Aegis Learning

Matt Zobrist is an energetic and dynamic facilitator, coach, presenter and speaker with Aegis Learning, LLC.

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