Has this ever happened to you at work? Have colleagues done or said something that feels disrespectful and yet they remain unaware of the impact their behaviors had on others? The colleagues do not intend to sound disrespectful, yet their behaviors create anxiety and lower trust leading to lower productivity and poor-quality communication.
How does this disrespect manifest? It can be an abrupt demand written in an email. It can be a curt tone of voice on the phone or on Zoom. It can be a missed opportunity to listen or a lack of empathy when needed. Perhaps they rolled their eyes in a virtual meeting after something you said.
What can we do? Do we say something and risk making the situation worse? Will the person become defensive? They are unaware of their impact on you. If we say or do nothing, the behaviors will no doubt continue. We need to do something or risk having the trust continue to deteriorate.
The speed and quality of communication is essential to achieve exceptional customer experience and profitability. Exceptionally good communication is a sign of an exceptional service culture. Any hint of disrespect can either slow or stop this achievement. If this is true, we must act or risk damaging customer experience.
Systems thinking is a way to see the world. Systems thinking recognizes the interdependency of each of the parts in the whole. The interdependency idea helps us to realize that each part of the system (each employee) is impacted by, and can impact, all the other parts. This idea encourages cooperation. Quality of communication and trust become essential for achievement of goals. What strategy can we use then in this situation? How can we use systems thinking to foster trust and respect?
One of our clients recently shared her strategy with me. She decided that every time one of her colleagues was unknowingly disrespectful, she would make an extra effort to demonstrate respect and trust with them. It worked. After only a few months she noticed a significant shift in the trust, the quality of communication and a boost in respect. She did it by exemplifying the trusting behavior she wanted to receive. Gandhi once said, “We must become the change we want to see in the world.” This is exactly what she did.
By being patient, assertive, and demonstrating the specific behaviors necessary for trust, she spread trust throughout her organization. You can employ the same strategy. By embracing systems thinking and specific behaviors of trust building you can too create an exceptional service culture. We can change minds and change habits by becoming the change we seek.
Do you need to boost trust in your team? Can you embrace “systems thinking” and interdependency? Do you know the specific behaviors that demonstrate trust? If so, you can initiate positive change. You can contribute to the building of an exceptional service culture while avoiding unnecessary defensive reactions. You can become the change you seek.
Dr. Wally Hauck is a senior vice president and co-owner of Communico. He is the author of Art of Leading: 3 Principles for Predictable Performance Improvement, Stop the Leadership Malpractice: How to Replace the Typical Performance Appraisal, Unleash Employee Engagement: 7 Initial Conditions for Outstanding Results