Why is this so hard?

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You know the ones. The people in your workplace who just aren’t quite as easy to work with. It might just be a little harder to understand their point of view. You may feel like you stick your foot in your mouth every time you try to talk with them. They may not respond to you in ways you’d expect. And you might find yourself asking, “Why is this so hard?”

Tasks, tasks, tasks.

These are your co-workers, and I don’t have a magic crystal ball, so I can’t say for sure. But one thing I do know is you’ll get a totally different response from someone if they trust you. If there’s no trust and rapport between you, there will likely be some struggles.

This shows up in a variety of ways depending on the person, but that’s stuff I’ve talked about in other articles. What I want to talk about today is why it’s so critical to build trust in the workplace and some techniques for how to do it.

We tend to be focused on tasks at work. There are so many deadlines to meet, fires to put out, and projects to work on. It can be super easy to get caught up in the busyness of the everyday. If you have a personality or hard-wiring which tends towards the task-focused side, you may not even be aware of this as a problem.

What do they care about?

As humans, we have a fundamental need to be seen. Even the shyest among us. There are varying degrees, to be certain, depending on who you are. Trust is cultivated in part when we feel seen and valued for who we are, not just what we do.

As a leader, you may already have the habit of meeting regularly with your team members. (If you don’t, I highly encourage you to start.) How much of any given meeting focuses on getting to know your team member better? To understand what they care about, what’s important to them, and what motivates them? How often do you ask how you can best support them?

Bottom line?

Start simple. Set aside 15 minutes out of every hour of meeting time with a team member. Devote that time to learning more about them. Ask questions from a place of respectful curiosity. Build trust and rapport. Communication channels will open. It will get much easier to work together. It doesn’t have to be so hard.

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