Igniting Workplace Enthusiasm

How To Build Trust, Credibility and Respect


Recent research by Dale Carnegie Training Japan on the subject of engagement found there were three critical drivers for engagement. They are your relationship with your immediate supervisor, your belief in senior management’s direction for the organisation and your sense of pride in working for the organisation. There was also an emotional trigger that created engagement and that was the feeling of trust.

What do we mean by trust? It can be defined as a firm belief or confidence that a person or thing can be relied upon. However too little trust or too much trust can be dangerous. A healthy trust is when we use a balance of head and heart, facts and instinct, to make good decisions and exercise good judgment.

Some of the benefits which flow from working in a healthy trust environment include: greater job satisfaction, more engaged employees, improved productivity, less stress, more innovation, better quality customer interaction, and high staff retention rates.

Trust, respect and credibility are tightly interconnected. If you don’t TRUST me, you will not view me as credible nor will you respect me. If you don’t RESPECT me, you will not see me as credible or trustworthy. If you don’t find me CREDIBLE, you will not trust or respect me.

What does distrust usually look like? Here are 6 warning beacons: (1) low morale and lack of motivation and initiative, (2) high absenteeism, lateness or turnover, (3) guarded communication or an active gossip and rumor mill spreading false information, (4) an undercurrent of fear and worry amongst staff (5) cynical or suspicious behaviour and (6) defensive or aggressive behaviour and communication.

Japan can be a tricky place to discern levels of distrust. As the boss you can guarantee to be the last to know! It pays to chat informally out of the office with various members of your staff, so that they can tell you what is really going on. The boozy bar side chat is standard operating procedure amongst older generation Japanese, so they can tell the boss he is an idiot and later save everyone’s face by blaming the demon drink.

How do we restore trust. Firstly, there is an important cycle we need to be aware of: (a) An event or events have triggered a breakdown in trust with someone. (b) Feelings of disappointment, anger, resentment and fear come to the surface. (c) We need to emotionally disengage from the issue, to pull back, take a "time out" to reflect on the real situation. (d) We discuss and communicate our thoughts and feelings about the situation with them.

This part is tricky in Japan, because people don’t easily tell you what is wrong. I remember I spent a full hour of total, unmoving silence waiting for the answer to my question of what was the employee’s concern. After what felt like an eternity, she finally spoke up and just said, "I can’t tell you"!

(e) We need to be generous in our spirit and give them a second chance. (d) This hopefully leads to a positive outcome and the person has redeemed themselves. (e) Finally with time and more positive outcomes trust is re-established.

It is not all a lost cause. We can be proactive and take 5 steps to boost and restore trust. 1. Put your ego aside and allow yourself to be seen as vulnerable. Reveal yourself as a human being not just an authority figure.

2. Honestly review your perceptions and take full responsibility for your part in breaking trust. Examine your assumptions and be honest with yourself, reflect on what role you had in the situation.

3. Meet privately with the person and disclose your perception and concerns. Ask for their perspective, keep an open mind and truly listen and put yourself in their shoes. Shut up and let them do most of the talking.

4. Find out what the person needs from you to repair the broken trust, and share what you need from them. Listen and check for understanding. Meet on a regular basis to assess progress.

5. Be vigilant about upholding your end of the deal. Our actions will speak volumes.

Our communication expertise can amplify the good efforts we make or derail them. In ascending order of importance consider these factors:

How we look. The look on your face can be misinterpreted. Never forget, our staff are all expert "boss watchers" scanning our face for our mood everyday. Japanese bosses have a genetic disadvantage here, because a Japanese boss serious, concentrating face and an angry face look the same in many cases! Make sure you check your own facial expression!

Next is how we act. Our demeanor, our attitude, our character all communicate positives or negatives. What is our attitude toward this person? Maybe our body language is screaming at them, even though we haven’t said a word yet.

What about what we say? The words we choose, the facts we use, the stories we tell, the knowledge we access, these all play a big role in engaging the person.

Finally and most important is how we say it. Our voice tone, pitch, speed, strength and tempo, all send messages to the listener. We need to align these with the message and not negate it.

In addition to this advice, I recommend Dale Carnegie’s book, How To Win Friends and Influence People. It is a timeless classic on how to be better in our people interactions. Read it for the first time or if it has been a while, read it again. It could change your life – it changed mine!
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