It takes Conscious Effort to Build Trust

I suspect you believe that people will automatically trust you because you know you are trustworthy. And yet, I’m sure you have had the experience of someone being suspicious about your motives for something you said or did.

Have another look at the four behaviors that build Trust – Acceptance, Openness, Straightforwardness, and Reliability.

Acceptance – accepting people for who they are, being nonjudgemental. Knowing that you will not be judged negatively for saying what you think or questioning how things are done is essential for feeling psychologically safe.

Openness – openly expressing your ideas and opinions, knowing they will be listened to, and being open to listening to the ideas and opinions of your colleagues. Openness can only flourish when there is a high level of Acceptance – an absence of judgment.

Congruence or Straightforwardness – being able to say what you mean and mean what you say without sugarcoating the pill and learning to be direct and tell the truth while at the same time being respectful and accepting of the other person.

Reliability – following through on commitments and doing the best you can on everything you do. Team members need to know that they can rely on each other to achieve the best results.

Our experience in using this trust model with people who have experienced an Everything DiSC Profile is that most people find at least two of these trust-building behaviors that come really easily to them and at least one that requires quite a bit of effort.

Much like knowing the love language of your romantic partner, it’s helpful to know the DiSC style of your team so you can build trust with them in a way that suits their style.

Let’s look at how that works with each of the DiSC primary styles:

Dominance – people strong in the D Style are task-oriented, direct, and focused on achieving results. So, their natural strength in building trust is Straightforwardness and likely to be strong in reliability. They pride themselves on their ability to call it like it is.

On the other hand, Acceptance is almost an anathema to them. The D Style’s need to continually achieve and to always be making progress means that Acceptance can be seen as preventing them from achieving more. Their tendency to be judgmental can be a real barrier to them creating a psychologically safe workplace.

Influence – people strong in the “i” Style are enthusiastic, outgoing, optimistic, and talkative. So, their natural strength in building trust is Openness – especially in sharing their ideas and opinions. Because of their need for recognition and to be well-liked, they are also quite open to listening to what others have to say.

The challenge in building Trust for the “i” Styles is reliability. Because of their enthusiasm, optimism, and energy, they tend to over-commit themselves and run out of time to do everything they committed to – or simply forget because they made so many commitments.

To maintain the respect of their team members, the “i” Style leader needs to be more disciplined about their decisions and make time for quality time with each team member.

Steadiness – people who score strongly in the S Style are friendly, cooperative, helpful, and focused on maintaining harmony. They have a strong need to be accepted by other people, and so Acceptance is the trust-building behavior they are naturally strongest in. Because of their need for Acceptance, they are also very good listeners, and so Openness is also likely to be a strength, especially Openness to what others have to say.

However, their primary challenge lies in Straightforwardness. Individuals with the S Style tend to carefully consider their words to avoid causing offense or distress, often hesitating to provide immediate responses when pressed for quick answers.

Conscientiousness – like the D Style, people strong in the C Style are task-oriented but more reserved, analytical, and focused on detail and accuracy. Their need for correctness means their strength in building trust is reliability – doing correct work, making accurate decisions, dotting I’s, and crossing T’s.

This also means they have very high standards for the quality of work they do and high expectations for quality from their coworkers.

Their biggest challenge when it comes to building trust is likely to be Openness – they tend to be quite private, not sharing a lot of themselves. This can lead to teammates being unsure about whether they are trusted or not.

Building Trust with Opposite Styles

You also need to take into consideration that each DiSC Style’s strength in building trust is also the most important thing they are looking for when deciding to trust someone else. For example:

The D Style expects you to be straightforward with them and give straight answers to their questions.

The “I” Style expects you to be open with them, volunteering information and letting them know how you feel.

The S Style expects you to be accepting of them and demonstrate that by being friendly, approachable, and caring.

The C Style expects you to demonstrate your reliability by being on time for meetings and having all the details you need to justify your decisions and actions.

If you look at this closely, you will see that each of the DiSC Styles biggest challenge in building trust is the strength of their opposite style, so building Trust with the opposite style does not come naturally and can take quite a bit of effort to stretch.

Can you find yourself in this approach to building trust? What do you need to do enhance in order to build trust with your team?

Part 1 of 2 excerpted from “Leaders are Responsible for Psychological Safety” by Keith Ayers. Get the full White Paper here.

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