Initially when I first started to write this blog post, I thought of a colleague of mine who I like to talk to. She’s an amazing person- smart, intuitive, and fun to talk to.
One night while we were working together, she and I were talking about a scenario that happened earlier that day. Her analysis of the situation was “You should always remember that people at work are not there to be your friends.”
This statement stuck with me and for many reasons. The first reason was because it gave me insight as to her train of thought. And the second was because it made me think from a different perspective.
Is the growing masses thinking in this manner? The more research I did, the more I came to realize that this was so. The majority of my social media contacts have expressed at some point or another a problem with a co-worker or boss, and the online groups that I have entered to gain insight have reflected complete discontent with their bosses or superiors.
This has been attributed to The Great Resignation, where a large number of people effectively resigned from their jobs and started new jobs or new careers entirely.
The consistent problem that I find is this: No matter where you decide to make your cash, you will still need to come into contact with other people. You will still need to collaborate with others at times in order to get tasks done effectively and efficiently. For such cases, you may want to consider these 6 tips to building trust at work.
#1 Get to know your co-workers
Sometimes the best way to start an effective dialogue with a co-worker is to not do so in the beginning. This first tip speaks to observation of your work culture and what type of atmosphere you walked into. Especially if you are new to the environment.
Work culture is extremely important. In order to fit in, you must blend in. In observing interactions between different people at work, you will be able to better understand which communication style resonates most with those you work with.
Observe what makes others upset and how their reactions are. Doing so will give you great information on individuals and their character. Do you observe the same set of individuals speak in a hostile manner consistently? You should reconsider beginning a work relationship with them in the first place. Do you observe that the majority of the staff is on time and passionate about their work? Then the ground is a fertile foundation for building trust.
#2 Establish Rapport
After the assessment of your surroundings, you should make contact with people. Start slowly with greetings and then gradually increase to small talk and deeper conversations. Allow for those around you to slowly approach you.
Effective communication is one of the most important ways of building rapport with others. Good communication has 2 important elements- speaking clearly to get your point across, and listening intently to the individual as they return feedback on the thought you expressed.
So many times when we think of listening do we automatically envision the use of ears. Listening fully to the individual includes what my husband calls “reading the room.” We have to attune ourselves to the feel of the individual we are engaged in conversation with. We do this by reading body language, listening to their tone and language use.
#3 Be Reliable: Say what you are going to do- and do it
Did you know that when your new employer checks your references, one of the questions that they ask is “Was she/he/they reliable?”
Reliability in an individual is highly valued. Not just by the people you work for but by your peers as well. Most people will disengage from any relationship if they do not see consistency from the opposing party. This is true with intimate relationships, familial relationships, and other social settings.
Make no mistake- a workplace is a social setting. Most of us suffered through the pandemic when we were out of work and had to find ways to connect with others from the comfort of our own home. If you switched to remote- there was the added stress of finding ways to connect and get your point across while working with technology.
If you do not connect well with other people in any work group setting, you are more likely to leave to find another group to connect with. Reliability helps us to connect with others for 2 different reasons:
It helps build a pattern of consistency and familiarity which can bring comfort to those around us
It allows you to be seen as approachable. How many times have you approached someone who was inconsistent with moods, or work ethic for help? Chances are very little to none.
Practicing reliability may be easier than you think. Showing up to work on time, helping when asked, and creating a routine for workflow can both show reliability and have a positive effect on your efficiency at work. In doing so, your co-workers will slowly begin to trust you with small, menial tasks. Which in turn will graduate to larger, and more important projects.
#4 Share personal experiences that connect deeply
If sharing personal feelings, thoughts, interests, and experiences make you want to run screaming, then that is a sign that you should be doing more of it.
When we think of sharing things that matter to us, it can be a little scary. We observe the anxiety that it stirs in young children when they are forced to share with others. We may feel it at the pit of our stomachs whenever someone we love spends time with others. It’s the reason why social media has taken a nasty turn for the worse. This is seen in people trying to show off living a better lifestyle than the next individual they follow. Ultimately, at the core of our being, sharing personal experiences is one of the best ways to connect and build trust with another person.
When you connect with someone, building trust is much easier to do. When you share something personal, you make an opening on the exterior shell of a person which helps them get to know you a little better. Not the you that you present to the world, but the real you. The you that cares deep inside, the you that takes the things you love seriously.
Sure, getting this intimate can leave you feeling vulnerable. However, life is not worth living without taking certain risks. And one of them is opening up to new experiences and relationships. What better way is there to do both?
Now I’m not saying that the moment you meet someone you should share your life’s story. However, if you are using this tactic to get to know someone and build trust with them, then you should go slow. At your interview when you first got your job, the person conducting it let you do 80% of the talking. Consider doing the same when you communicate with the person that you would like to share personal details with.
Let them speak, and then see if there was a situation that was similar to theirs that you have gone through that made you feel the same way. How was that circumstance similar? How did it make you feel at the time? Did you do anything to make this event come out in your favor?
When you ask yourself these questions, you allow yourself to emphasize with the other person. Again, I’m not saying that doing this initially will be easy. However, this will make you become more trustworthy as the relationship progresses.
#5 Go easy- it’s not all about the job
There is a running joke at my house. It revolves around the fact that at one point, I was extremely laser focused on my profession. All 3 of my now teenagers poke fun and laugh about it. I enjoy it so much because it helps keep me grounded to what is really important.
It is so easy to let everything slip away and become so intent on the job at hand. Don’t fall into that trap. Yes the job is important, however, it is not WHO you ARE. Do not make the mistake of confusing your profession for who you are as a person.
Yes, work is important in order to provide for your family. However, it is more important to establish connections and trust at work (and out of work). Connections keep us grounded and are important for our mental health. There is no reason to ignore it.
#6 Be consistent.
Consistency, by far, has been regarded as a habit of the successful. If you eat a salad today, but eat like crap for the rest of the week, you will not lose any weight or become any healthier.
This is the same with building trust. You cannot assume that now that you have gained a person’s trust that they will continuously trust you no matter what happens. Like all relationships, trust requires you to consistently work on it. It takes time and effort to build and keep the trust of your co-workers.
Create a routined schedule to keep you accountable. If you fall off the schedule once, it is okay. However, make sure to refocus on being there for your team when needed. Be honest with your self evaluations and make time to regularly check in on those who are important to you at work. Foster those relationships to make your workplace more fulfilling and fruitful.
Building trust with colleagues does not have to require you to go to extravagant lengths. It also does not require you to be completely naive either. Even in the most competitive atmosphere you are able to build trust. You just have to be able to understand that building trust is not equal to building a friendship. The type of work relationship that you should be aiming for is a synergistic working type, in which connecting with others allows for the team to be successful at goals and milestones.
Allow yourself to trust others at work. And trust yourself to know that whatever the challenges ahead, you are able to conquer them.
Yaritza Ellison has been an nurse since 2010. She has been essential to the healing process of many and seeks to continue to do so. Her passion for mental health and self help literature has lead her to launch justyari.org, where she aspires to coach young ladies navigating through work-life balance.