What do you do when you’ve lost trust in someone at work? Leaders have to not only build trust, but also maintain it. Becky Freemal of WFXR news interviews Judith Glaser, author of Conversational Intelligence and Lynda McNutt Foster, CEO, Cortex Leadership Consulting.
Becky: Ok, well welcome back for our Corcast with our guests Lynda McNutt Foster with Cortex Leadership Consulting, and Judith Glaser. Judith, what if you want to have a good relationship with someone at work, and they don’t want to have one with you? Or, almost worse it seems, what do you do if you want to build trust with somebody, but they don’t trust you? I don’t know how, to me I’ve always been told, and I’ve always lived that trust is a two-way street. So, if you want someone to trust you, and you want to trust them, it has to happen both ways I would assume.
Judith: Becky you brought up a really important word that is so embedded at the heart of conversational intelligence that I’m glad we’re having the chance to explore it. So, I want to say that at the heart of trust, something happens that makes, first of all, trust so important, and also make us understand why it’s so difficult when we lose trust with someone. Why we get stuck. So let me just give you a little bit of background. First time I meet you, which was in person, right, today, I put in my brain a little dot that has the name Lynda on it, and it has you on it. It’s all imprinting you. Our brains were designed this way. Animals did it, still do it, that’s part of how they know who to sniff out, who’s good and who’s bad and remember whether they’ve been hurt by a person or not. It’s an incredible thing, but we have this memory system in the hippocampus. Think of the word hippo, it’s big, right? And so I’ve now imprinted you and every time I have an interaction that goes and gets collected around that little spot. So the next time I’m going to see you, if I’ve had a breach of trust in the last encounter, that becomes the biggest thing that sits on top of my knowledge of who you are, my instincts about who you are, and I will never be able to remove that imprint. If I do the right things, I can push it down below the others, but because trust between human beings is the primary thing that we need to connect with another human being, that drives our interaction. And so, a negative experience like that is imprinted. It’s the smell that I have of you before I see you, it’s how I prepare to meet with you again, it’s fear that something else is going to happen, right? And so, that’s why, at least understanding trust and distrust is so important in any place where people work together. So far, does that make sense?
Lynda: Yes, I was thinking about if you have such a strong imprint you really do have to create a lot of experiences to go over top of that; because it’s instinctual right? So, you know, hundreds, thousands of years ago, I needed to remember that this was dangerous. If I forgot that, I could die. I could get eaten. So the brain is this instrument, this organ that’s trying to keep us safe, right? And so, how difficult it is for us to go, ok, I’m feeling that little feeling, but all these new experiences that have happened would make me think that I should trust this person and I can trust them now.
Judith: So, this is again the importance of how we use words, anchor, and then how, what’s going on in the brain, we have to connect the two of them together to know that all words are not equal, that words are created by the meaning of the interaction dynamics that take place behind that. So, while there’re dictionaries that tell you the classical definition of trust and distrust, or the definition of collaboration means to cohort with the enemy; So, as we’ve been using this word throughout all the time, it means that we have been imprinted with a caution around new relationships that is come from our millions of years of evolving, because it is passed from generation to generation. So, we have to overcome that, which is what you just provoked in this conversation. So we have to give more time, we can’t, somebody said, well I went in and I was nice to this person after they didn’t trust me, but I came back, and I was nice Becky. And how come it’s not working? I tried to fix it, I did something now, they didn’t respond to my being nice, and now we’re in a worse place. We have to get that distrust carries more weight in the brain. We have to do a lot of things in order to show trust in a consistent way, to move distrust from the top of the list of how I see you down to a lower level, into how I am not experiencing you. So, we have to really not expect that the other person is going to respond right away. Most fights in families, in marriages is where somebody felt distrust from their partner, they did something nice, they didn’t get why it wasn’t fixed like a Band-Aid. And then they go on and get divorced, right? We have to understand the dynamic of trust and distrust in the brain and in the workplace, in any relationship. So you have to be more consistent in being trustworthy to someone. You have to show up that way on a regular basis. You have to most of all apologize for something that you’ve done. And if you didn’t know that you did it, you have to talk about, I had no idea that this is going to impact you that way, or I had no idea that this happened or that you went up, we call it the ladder of conclusions, meaning that you painted this as my picture forever. Yeah. When we learn those languages around conversational intelligence, how to have those conversations to move from distrust with somebody to trust, it changes everything, but don’t expect it to be a one shot deal and it’s over, because we’ve collected baggage, we’ve collected feelings, we’ve amplified them, cause we always think about a relationship over and over again in our brain, even when we’re not with that person. And if I’m angry because you created distrust, I will think about it, I might dream about it. So I want to give people that expectation to shift the expectation.
Lynda: What I was thinking about, cause we’re talking about the practical application of what can you do make a shift, and so to understand what’s happening is really key. To apologize, like that’s a bad word these days, what’s going on with that, Right? Staying in that vulnerable space; some work that I’ve learned through the leadership program at Cleveland Clinic was about the six elements of trust. So I was thinking, all of us have these elements, time, reliability, standards, involvement, right? And these different pieces that, us being involved all the time may be really important; So we’re showing in our research that millennials love that involvement. For their cortisol levels to go down, and their oxytocin to go up they need to have that constant interactions, I’m safe, I’m good, I know, they’ve got to know where they fit in. Whereas, when you look at the baby boomers, so I’m about one year out, so I’m kind of Gen X, baby boomers, the involvement isn’t as important to me as are you respecting my time, are my standards good, and so it has to do with my behavioral style, my generation. This trust thing is complicated.
Judith: So, what you just said is the different, the generational difference that might be the biggest generational shift we’re going to see in the world while we’re alive. Which is the baby boomers and the millennials. Because we were trained to be smart, we’re part of that being smart, knowing it all, what is important, how I am valued, so it’s the I generation right before a we generation. And millennials are all about the group. They go on the Web and they have communities that they build on LinkedIn and Facebook and strangers, just like that. It’s not an issue. But being inside of a team, and being important inside of the team, and having a role is so important. And so, that’s why I want to say, we have five things that people can do to bring trust back. And I think that’s what people want to hear about. What can you do? Once you understand the chemistry of trust and distrust in the brain, what do you do about it? So one is transparency; Transparency is the number one thing that starts to bring a relationship back. So if a person says to you, I can tell that our relationship isn’t where I’d like it to be or you’d like it to be, and I want to help do some things to make that better, but I also want to share that I know this particular interaction that must have been hard for you. Number one it was hard for me, but most of all I didn’t realize the impact on you. And I want to apologize, and I want to learn, what did I do that set us apart in such a difficult way? So I’m coming to you, opening my kimono, if you use that understanding, they want to share with you, whatever is going on inside of you, I share that. I want our relationship to be on a better foot, and I know something happened, I even think I know when it happened, but I want to talk about it. Are you open to see if we can do some work together about better understanding, how to build our relationship? So that’s being transparent about what happened.
Lynda: Let me ask you a question though. So let’s say that a person, you had that beautiful open heart, I’m here, I want to be transparent, and their response is, no. Like, I’m really not ready to talk to you yet.
Judith: So if you get no, and I’ve never heard people say just no after that type of entrée, just so that you know. That would be a new one. But if they say no, I’m over it, I’m not interested in a relationship with you, and you say, if this is what you as the end of a relationship, I’d love to end it in a better way than this. So, are there some things…You accept it, yeah. If it’s been that hard for you, and it’s too difficult to work with me at work, I have to respect that, because I know that I would want to work with somebody where we support each other. And now you’re giving them a hint of what you would like, just in case they change their mind. And I would want to have somebody that would listen and not make up things about what I’ve told to them. And I would want to have somebody that would have my back in a meeting. I would want those things too, and if you think it’s too hard to do that with me, I’m going to step back and say I apologize, and let’s…
Lynda: I was thinking about your ten, ten. Like, this transparency part is the first part of the ten, ten conversation that you teach, that you say, so her ten, ten tool is about the idea that there’s certain people in your life and at work, you need to have a ten, ten relationship. It’s ten for them it’s ten for you. And it sounds like the conversation you just had is paramount at the beginning of that ten, ten conversation, to say, here’s what I want, which you know, goes to David Emerald’s work of the empowerment dynamic, you state what you want, which is prefrontal cortex work. When I say what I want, I’m in my prefrontal cortex, I’m using my heart, I’m being vulnerable, I’m being transparent, and it sets up the conversation and they are then given a permission even in a rough relationship to be able to say, well here’s what I would want. That’s interesting, because I think a lot of time we’re having a conversation with someone you care a lot about, you want to have a good relationship, that’s what you wanted? Oh, you wanted to play tennis, or wow, you didn’t show up to those company socials, and that really made that big a difference to you? Because I didn’t think I was kind of slighting by not doing that.
Judith: Lynda, you’re right. People think what the other person might want, and don’t check what the other person might want. And they think about it possibly in light of an ideal that they have. In other words, I marry somebody because I think they’re my ideal mate, but guess what; I missed this level, and this level and this level. I didn’t know that they could do this, this and this, or wanted those things from me. And so, the ten, ten exercise is a way, if this person would’ve said, well, ok, I’m open, but let’s figure out a better way to have conversation so we can talk about it. And I say, I have a great tool, I have something that I use in my relationships with people, and I’d love to do it with you. And it’s how to figure out what success means for both of us in a relationship. So we move forward with a better understanding of each other. And we work really hard to make it a good relationship. And then you’re into a ten, ten.
Lynda: Yeah. And the other four parts you were talking about is, you go from transparency, and then relationship, and then you move in to kind of the second level, which is positional, which is understanding. So that happens a lot in the workplace, and in relationships, is they don’t get past the positional conversation because they’re looking for, during that, you can kind of feel that they’re looking for confirmation and not information. And I’ve actually been in a conversation, we’re trying to innovate, and go, you’re really looking for confirmation right now. Like, that’s going to make you feel safe right now. For me to say that was good thinking, that was, I want to confirm that I believe in what you’re saying, and I want to you to hear my side and then we can move to transformational conversation, which is so, yeah.
Judith: Yeah. So for people who are hearing this for the first time, you’re talking about levels of conversation. Right. And so one of the things, we have three levels of conversation. One level is called transactional. And you were speaking to the confirming what you know. And you say you understand somebody, and you comment and say, well you really like this, right? Or you really like that, right? So you’re confirming what you already know about that person. And what that person is hoping you’re going to say is, but it’s all these things down here that you didn’t know. Ok, we’ve confirmed it, it’s very transactional, you’ve already seen it, but I want to show up a different way, and I need to have that space in our relationship. So they try to go to, well, this is really important to me, this is positional, level two. It’s not just confirming what I know, but it’s saying, I very strongly believe, and this is important for a relationship between us. And I want us to be able to go play tennis, I want us to go out to dinner at least once a week, let’s say this is a couple talking to each other, right? Or partners in a business and you want to know which things are really important and say these are the non-changeable for me. I really need this to happen, and that’s, but you have a position and it’s important. I want to honor that with you, but it’s not everything, right? So, then you go to level three, which is transformational. And that’s where we open up and talk about what could our life be like together, as in our partnership that will give us everything that we want. What are things that are under the surface that we didn’t know about, and didn’t share about? Or what are the things that we could contract to do if you were in a business with me that would make our business better? And that’s really a neutral space where our aspirations can come to life, our dreams and aspirations about each other. This is what drives our relationship from the very beginning, but we don’t talk about it. We got to work, we do things, we’re successful, it’s all transactional.