One of my clients asked me the other day, “How do I give of myself when I don’t trust the people I work with?” Now that’s a juicy question, isn’t it?
Of course, this is somebody who has so much to contribute; so much to share, and she was holding back a piece of herself because she was worried that maybe the risk was too high. If she gave too much of herself, perhaps people would take advantage of that; they would turn it around and they would be critical of her.
Here’s the opportunity!
When we share a piece of ourselves we are able to contribute who we are when we are at our best. Let me take a step back and give you an important statistic: 100% employees in the workplace are human. So, if we agreed with that fact and subscribed to that, would we maybe be able to look at it a little differently? Wouldn’t you be able to say that we all have an important story to share and maybe I’m just the one gets to go first?
I’ve got a podcast that I’d love to offer you. Feel free to click here, it may give you a little bit more perspective and depth on this issue. In the meantime, I want to share with you three strategies that you can use to dip your toes into the waters of building trust. When you have that trust, you can have real conversations that matter in the workplace. I’ll tell you how to do it – you just need to get ready to share, share, share!
Share an important story
Share an important story that reflects exactly who you are. I’ll give you an example. One of the things that was added to my portfolio in my last job was public relations. I started writing articles for the local newspaper and because I worked in healthcare, I thought I’d better share some healthcare stories. I shared a story about my grandmother and her stroke, some good patient stories and some not-so-great patient stories.
Then I decided I’d been playing too small. I’d been playing it safe and sharing my own stories on too small a scale. So, I decided I was going to share the story of my postpartum depression. It was a huge challenge for me. None of my colleagues knew that I had ever had depression; I didn’t really have the kind of personality that would indicate to people that perhaps I was depressed – but I was still on antidepressants at that time. I decided I was going to do it, not just to share with my colleagues, but with the entire community. Anyone who wanted to, could read about my experience with postpartum depression.
Do you know what happened? People came to me – people that I hadn’t previously had much of a relationship with – sometimes with tears in their eyes – saying, “It’s like you were describing my life story,” or, “It’s like you were describing me.” Others asked, “Could my granddaughter talk to you because I think she’s going through the same thing,” or “I’m really worried about my daughter-in-law, do you have any ideas, any resources, any suggestions; what help did you get?” People related to me on a totally different level – and I didn’t experience any negative backlash. I didn’t always have the closest relationships with everybody on my team, but sharing my story built me some credibility because I was willing to get real with them. What’s my next suggestion?
Share your strengths
My strength is that I am a connector. I am a giver, and I’m generous. I’m doing these VLOG posts for you and I hope you’ll tell me if there are some additional topics that I can cover that will be of service to you. That’s just who I am! So, by sharing who I am with my folks, I then have the opportunity to then ask them, “so what about you?” and then they’re more likely to share. I learned all kinds of things in that period when I decided to get really brave and start sharing and having conversations that mattered. I moved to all kinds of levels of depth about my colleagues that I had no knowledge of before. Now, get ready for the last tip – sometimes it’s a challenge for many of us.
Share when you’re experiencing difficulty
Share these moments, even if they are just situational. If you’re having a rough day, or a day that’s been pretty stressful, open up to folks. You have no idea what could happen! If you share with someone and they are having a bad day too, you may be able to support each other. Even if they aren’t having a bad day at that moment, you know they have had one in the past. By being a bit vulnerable, you allow people to help you. Sometimes we are afraid to ask for help because it makes us look vulnerable – but how are you ever supposed to have a conversation that matters and have a deeper relationship with your colleagues if you don’t ever ask for help or share some vulnerability? There’s always got to be a balance. You’re not going to bare your whole soul right away, you’re not going to go into those “TMI” conversations. But I encourage you to consider this: are you going deep enough in your work relationships?
These are strategies I share with my clients, and when I see them put into action, it is incredible the trust and relationship depth you get into.
I hope that you enjoyed this video and I’ve got lots more for you. If you subscribe to my YouTube channel, I’ll make sure you get one every single week.
My name is Sarah McVanel. Be well and be great.