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Communication trust

Trust influences communication and communication influences trust. The two are closely related. Sharing information, telling the truth and speaking with good purpose are examples of behaviours that create communication trust. In such an environment, people feel safe to ask questions, honestly speak their minds, challenge assumptions, raise issues, give and receive feedback, or acknowledge that they don’t understand and ask for help.

Critical to communication trust is speaking with good purpose. When people speak directly to one another regarding their issues and concerns, they speak with good purpose. When people fail to do so, they fuel gossip and backbiting.

Beware gossip

Our research in over 100 organisations, using our trust-measuring surveys, has found that gossip is the number one killer of communication trust. The damage to trust is too great to be ignored!

Behaviours of communication trust

There are six behaviours of communication trust, described below.

  1. Share information

Prevent misunderstandings or needless concerns through sharing information. If the information is too sensitive to share, say you are not at liberty to do so.

  • How do you contribute to ‘communication channels’ being open and receptive versus closed and unavailable?
  1. Tell the truth

Communicate openly and honestly: tell the ‘tough truths’; don’t spin them. Indeed, if you are spinning the truth, most of the time others will know or find out.

  • Are there occasions where you may be inclined to spin the truth?
  • What are the factors that contribute to spinning the truth?
  1. Admit mistakes

Take responsibility for your mistakes; give others permission to admit their mistakes, and then constructively deal with mistakes.

  • Is it safe for others to admit mistakes they have made to you?
  • How do you tend to respond?
  1. Give and receive constructive feedback

Give feedback with the intent to support and encourage, not insult, blame or make wrong.

  • How are you taking responsibility for providing constructive feedback to appropriate individuals with the intent of supporting their growth and development?
  1. Maintain confidentiality

Respect requests for confidentiality; protect privileged information.

  • How are you protecting other people’s confidences?
  • Are you able to confront breaches of confidentially with candour, respect and sensitivity?
  1. Speak with good purpose

Directly address issues or concerns; counter gossip head-on. Talking negatively about someone kills trust within a team or group.

  • What are you doing to ensure that you are talking with, versus about, other people?