How Language Builds Trust
Written by: Lynne Edwards and Julia Rogers
Words have power to hurt or heal
‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.’ A well known childhood rhyme that holds little truth for anyone who’s survived the playground. And although the majority of people no longer have to deal with child-like taunts in the workplace (we hope!) the power that language can yield loses none of its potency in adulthood. Thoughtless or unconstructive feedback from a boss or colleague has the power to open up old wounds or reinforce long-held, negative self beliefs, while kind and encouraging praise can uplift and heal years of hurt.
Despite this, people often lack insight into the impact their words have on another person, or the remarkable difference that adapting their language can make. For example: ‘How long can you stay?’ as opposed to ‘when are you leaving?’ is a simple way of adjusting a question to sound more warm and welcoming, or even rescue a relationship that’s already on the rocks!
If people are communicating via email, telephone or with anybody who has a visual impairment, language can become even more problematic. In the absence of body language, the tone and sounds of words during a phone call have the power to transmit a positive or negative energy, while a brief and direct email could be misinterpreted as rude or dismissive. In these instances, it is critical that communication is given even more careful consideration.
How language builds trust
Language provides an important framework for how we give or receive information, how we build or erode rapport and ultimately, how we connect with each other. It’s important for individuals to become more aware of the impact their words have and the style in which they deliver those words — ie, their preferred method of communication. If not, challenges and problems will manifest quickly. With good communication skills team members are much more likely to feel valued, understood and appreciated. Insecurities are allayed and confidence builds. This creates the perfect foundation from which to build deep and ongoing trust within the team
Why is trust so important in teams?
Trust is critical for any team who wants to perform at an optimal level. When trust is established, people feel less fear, distrust, anxiety or self-doubt, which will negatively impact their performance. Each individual is far more motivated to invest their time and energy in collaboration, innovation and creative thinking. Trust encourages altruistic behaviour because people are less preoccupied with protecting themselves or dwelling on their wounded feelings.
When people understand more about how they and their colleagues prefer to communicate, it helps to create an environment of tolerance and understanding. Ultimately this leads to a more productive team as they’re more likely to support each other and work together effectively. This is particularly important on a cruise ship or yacht, where intense or challenging situations arise regularly.
Why is self-awareness so important for improving effective communication?
Personality characteristics, life experiences and upbringing are all intrinsically linked to people’s preferred styles of communication and their behaviour.
People communicate in a variety of different ways and what may appear as aggressive or posturing to one, may simply seem assertive to another. A calm and gentle way of communicating could also be interpreted as weak and ineffective.Therefore, it’s critical to gain deeper awareness of yourself and others through personal development.
Most of us communicate in the way we want to communicate, we deliver messages ‘our way’. Once we learn to communicate in a way that’s more acceptable to the person to whom we’re speaking, it nurtures feelings of acceptance and ultimately, trust.
How well do you know your team? Could you understand them better?
If you’ve just started leading your team, it’s important to invest in understanding them before issues and challenges arise. Equally, if you’ve worked with them for a long time, fresh insight can be illuminating. Who we think somebody is and who they actually are is often wildly different. People can work side by side for years and accumulate many unhelpful assumptions or beliefs about each other.
LH’s approach can produce instant results
LH’s unique 360 approach helps you identify the traits of four principal energies — Dynamo, Blaze, Tempo and Steel — within yourself and individual team members. This will help you to discover how your people like to be led, how they prefer to receive instruction, and the most effective and constructive way to give them feedback. You will also feel more empowered to develop compassion and empathy between individual team members.
For example, individuals with strong ‘Steel’ energy enjoy systems, compliance and details — they will prefer direct, bullet-pointed messages delivered in a methodical, organised way. In contrast, people with high ‘Blaze’ energy prefer a more casual way of communicating that allows them to express themselves, without too many details.
With the guidance of LH Dynamics, LH’s mentors and coaches have continually seen relationships transform between team members — often instantly — once they have a fresh and more empathic understanding of each other.
Become a better leader when you develop effective communication skills
Clear communication is an important core leadership skill. Adapting one’s language is easy – but it takes awareness and practice.
Completing the LH Dynamics assessment is the first step. This is followed by either a 1-2-1 debrief or a full team interactive training where a trained coach explores your teams’ personalities. This forms the basis for determining the best way to improve communication, build trust and create a happy, harmonious, productive team.
Self development is a continual journey and the results may not always be instant. But the first step towards transformation is awareness of who you are, not what you do.
To find out more about LH Dynamics and how we can help you and your team contact us.