3 Examples of How to Build Trust

Why is trust important? It’s essential to unlocking high performance. When I trust my colleagues — my team, my manager. I feel safe, happier and I’m in the right mind space to dedicate 100% of my energy & ability to my work and perform at my best.

In this post I want to share 3 small ways to build trust. Techniques I’ve observed and tried out myself to be effective. At the heart of all these techniques is one key.

One big key to building trust is vulnerability.

1. The courage to be vulnerable and accept responsibility when things go wrong

A project went wrong — you’re now all in one meeting room conducting a retrospective. The facilitator introduces and describes what happened. It starts feeling uncomfortable and tension grows. At this point it could go either of two ways. It could get real negative, real fast. Walls go up, people shift responsibility, tension grows and the conversation goes around in circles.

However, I’ve noticed when someone who has the courage to be vulnerable, jumps in first and raises their hand to take responsibility e.g. “Hey guys, sorry I think this one is on me — I overlooked X and it resulted in Y — I’ll reflect on this and implement processes to make sure it doesn’t happen again”. Tension diffuses, walls go down and like dominoes everyone starts jumping in to share what they could’ve done better.

When we’re vulnerable with our mistakes/shortcomings we can have more constructive conversations, and we work better as a team to overcome problems.

2. Being vulnerable about your weaknesses and shortcomings.

When the people around you are always calm, cool, composed and perfect. It feels as if showing anything less than perfect will create the impression that you’re incompetent.

And when you’re busy spending your time trying to hide your weaknesses and shortcomings. You miss out on the opportunity to grow and improve those areas. You miss out on finding alternative ways to mitigate the impact of those shortcomings on project output — whether that’s collaborating with someone who’s stronger in that area, getting some coaching or something else.

The first time I ever heard someone say “I’m not great at Y — it’s not my strength. I’d like to get more input & feedback”. I was so impressed and relieved! What I actually heard was “It’s okay to not be perfect and be transparent about that”. And it’s even more powerful when you hear this from someone you respect or from leadership/management.

Being open with your weaknesses and shortcomings helps create a safe workplace environment by letting others know it’s okay to do so as well. It also opens up opportunities for you to grow and overcome them.

3. Being vulnerable about how you feel.

I used to worry about sharing anything but positive emotions. Is it okay to say anything but you’re excited, motivated, inspired….?

The thing is, you can still be both positive and real with how you feel even when your emotions are more on the ‘negative’ spectrum — stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, worried, disappointed.

For example — “I’m feeling really stressed and anxious about our ability to deliver this project on time — because we’ve hit many unforeseen blockers A, B, C and it’s likely we won’t hit our target. However, I’ve put together this new plan — with an adjusted target that’s more feasible, and we’re taking actions X, Y, Z to continue to do our best to ensure this project can continue running smoothly.

You’re being both real with your emotions and the situation. But you’re also illustrating your positivity through your ability to overcome hurdles. Not only that, but when you share your emotions — you become someone who is genuine and relatable, someone it’s possible to connect with. You end up building stronger personal connections with those that you work with.

It’s hard to build a strong relationship when you don’t share real emotions.

Every workplace and situation is different. And I’m realising it might be hard to do some of these without the right team or environment. I’m lucky enough to be at a place like Canva where I’ve felt safe enough to observe and trial some of these techniques to build trust.

Learning how to build trust is still a big journey I’m on — it takes a lot of effort to build, but not much effort at all to have it crumble away.

What are some of your techniques to build trust? I would absolutely love to hear and learn! Please comment or reach me via michelle@canva.com.

Growth & Marketing @Canva with a passion for all things data