People Won’t Trust Anyone They Don’t Respect First – Building Relationships That Last

Have you ever met someone for the very first time and thought, “Oh, yuck – What a dink”? (And I don’t mean Double Income No Kids) You didn’t know why – you just knew that there was something about them that you didn’t like. But, after you spent some time with them – and got to know them better – did you ever change your mind? Building relationships and establishing trust with the people you work with is crucial to your overall success as a manager. Once you lose the trust and confidence of your people – you lose your ability to manage and lead them.

“We cannot hide behind our boundaries, or hold onto the belief that we can survive alone” – Meg Wheatley

Trust and respect do not come automatically just because you’ve been given the title of manager. You must earn both, one person at a time. (And remember once you gain your team’s trust and respect, you can just as easily lose both.) Establishing trust between you and the people you work with and interact with – is a 3-step process that I refer to as the 3’R’s – Rapport, Relationships and Respect. It’s a process that everyone must go through when they meet someone for the very first time. Some people will go through this process quicker then others, but it’s a journey we all must take.

“In organizations where people trust and believe in each other, they don’t get into regulating and coercing behaviours. They don’t need a policy for every mistake … people in these trusting environments respond with enormous commitment and creativity.” – Walter Wriston

The 3-R’s – Building Relationships That Last

Step One: Rapport; The first step is to build rapport. Find out something about the person other than the work they do. Do they have hobbies? Are they married? Do they have children? What do they like to do in their spare time? Do they like to fish, play golf, ride horses or walk their dog? You need to be able to carry on a conversation them on a subject that they’d enjoy talking about. Idle chit-chat is important if you want to build rapport. No one can have a relationship with anyone unless they have established rapport first.

Step Two: Relationship; Successful managers and leaders understand the value of building relationships with the people they work with and interact with. They understand that people choose to do business with and follow people they like. If you have built your relationships with them on a solid foundation, then your team will want to perform well for you. No one wants to let a “friend” down. The third step, respect, will evolve over time as a result of those relationships. But remember, no one will respect anyone that they haven’t established a relationship with first.

Step Three: The third step to building trust is respect. How often have you heard someone say, “Well, I don’t agree with what was said, but I do respect him/her for being honest, up front, and telling it like it is.” That is the kind of relationship that you must have with your people. We are adults, we can agree to disagree. Let your people know that it’s OK for them to express their opinion – that you will listen to what they have to say. That you won’t belittle them, brow beat or dismiss them outright because they didn’t tell you what you wanted to hear. Respect is reciprocal. You have to give it – to get it. Others will respond in kind. If you have establish mutual respect – they will trust you. They will take a leap of faith because they know you have their best interest in mind.

“Women are becoming enormously successful …. They’re running their businesses on what we call a familial model, a family, instead of a hierarchical top-down military model. They work with, not over or for.” – Faith Popcorn

If you had to make a choice of either to be liked or respected – which one would you choose? The truth of the matter is that not everyone will like you and you won’t like everyone you work with. But you do need to respect and trust each other. 🙂

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