I’ve been thinking about how important trust is in our relationship, business and otherwise. It’s easy to tear trust down and it’s hard to build it up, especially if you’ve spent years doing things that aren’t congruent.
I believe the way people learn to trust is through actions we take. I know that in the organizations that I’ve been involved in people watch actions and don’t listen to words.
If your actions are not congruent with what you say you have no legitimacy. I think this is where telling the truth is important. If you have bad news to deliver, do it promptly and with empathy. If things are working out well, let people know.
If you say that spending time with customers is important then you must spend time with customers. If you tell your managers that you think it’s important for everyone to have hands on and you stay in your office you are giving a message that is not congruent.
It’s the little things that count. Congruency isn’t about big actions; it’s about the little things we do. When a minor mistake happens how do you handle it? If you make an agreement to do something for someone and the agreement had to be changed how do you communicate this?
Trust is built a little bit at a time and often it’s taken away a little at a time. It’s small things that add up to big things. Maybe changing an agreement was on a really minor point. Unless you’ve been clear about why the change was made and you take the time to listen to what the effect was on others, you’ve taken a small debit in your trust account.
It’s about matching your words and deeds. Congruency is where words meet deeds. We all might give someone else the benefit of the doubt, but when small injustices continue to happen we think less of the other person.
Dan Sullivan of The Strategic Coach talks about being referable. In his world this means only three things:
- Do what you say you will do.
- Show up on time.
- Say thank you
If you do those three things, your actions will match your words and you’ll be congruent. The more congruent you are, the more others will learn to trust what you do and say.
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