Trust is a funny thing. We get offended when people don’t trust us, but we don’t trust others…frequently.
So here’s what recently happened to me. I had a situation where I asked a question that was mistaken for mistrust. I can see how it could be taken that way, although that was not what I meant and not what I intended. But, that is what happened and that distrust severed an infant relationship as quickly as it started. Now I can be offended or I can learn something. I’m going to choose the later.
What can I learn? I can learn that I need to re-examine my message before I send it and that no matter what my intent is, the receipt of that message is based on the receivers feelings, history or whatever in that moment. The second thing I learned is that it might not be my lesson.
A lot of my life people have judged me as not being trusting, that might be true some of the time. It is not true all of the time, in fact, that is what this taught me. That I was not the one with an issue of trust, rather it was I, which was not trusted. Admittedly, I was offended for a brief moment before I realised that it was reasonable for that person to feel that way based on their own ‘stuff’. So, I could judge them for judging me, you see the irony here right, or I could accept that they received what they received and make a plan B. I’m working on Plan B.
In our bubbles, we can get carried away on a notion with good intention, but how it is received by anyone is anyone’s guess. Part of the issue with this fledgling relationship was just that, we don’t really know each other. Which brings me to the point of your team or your family or your friends. When we get new people in our lives we need to consider the impact of assuming they know us well enough to receive any message any way. I know I am not alone in having offended someone with something I did or said innocently. I know that we do it all the time with or without understanding.
Think about when you first met your boyfriend/girlfriends parents or when you met your new teacher or prof or boss. Or when you went on a first date. And then think about what you based your assumptions on, and we all assume so don’t worry about that right now, but instead focus on what your assumptions are based on. I believe they are filters for information based on our past experiences. I assume things because somewhere sometime I’ve learned some lesson.
So, when I think about it like that I wonder if; 1. I could have asked that question in a year and had a different response? 2. Or, does the receiver have a filter that time doesn’t affect? Both are plausible.
What I know is that relationships provide the opportunity for trust. And trust provides an opportunity for forgiveness. And forgiveness provides the opportunity for a stronger relationship. It feels like a full circle to me.
If you don’t take the time and opportunity to build relationships with your team how will you buffer against misperception and make space for clarification, acceptance and forgiveness? People need time like plants need water.
If we are so busy that we can’t learn who our team is, how will it affect their trust in us? And if they can’t trust us, can they follow our lead? Or, if they can’t trust us, can they forgive us? And if they can’t forgive us how do you repair, resolve and refocus?
Rest assured I am going to make another mistake with or without intention. Dually, I have to admit my error, apologise and seek forgiveness, and here’s the tough one, I too have to be forgiving in order to be the example. We are all leaders, we all have a responsibility to be better. It important that your team understand they will be forgiven and that the expectation is that they will forgive. The safety of being able to screw up is imperative to building trust. And without trust, well, your environment becomes a breeding ground for gossip, bullying, low productivity, high sick time and low retention. Do you trust your team enough to forgive them when they are wrong? Do you give them the opportunity to be forgiven and to forgive? And do they afford you the same grace?