Trust is like the air we breathe. When it’s present, nobody really notices. But when it’s absent, everybody notices.
Trusting relationships form the foundation of every strong team. You’ve likely experienced teams where trust existed (so refreshing!) and others where it didn’t (so frustrating). But here’s the million-dollar question: how do we practically strengthen trust in our relationships and on our teams?
Years ago I learned a helpful concept from Stephen Covey called Emotional Bank Accounts. His son (also Stephen) calls these Trust Accounts in his book, The Speed of Trust. Similar to a bank account, we make deposits and withdrawals in our relationships that either increase or deplete trust. As you consider creating more trust in your relationships, consider these practical truths about Trust Accounts:
1. Each Trust Account is unique. The account I have with my parents differs from ones I have with business colleagues. Recognizing the differences in your accounts will help you build them more effectively.
2. All deposits and withdrawals are not created equal. Growing up, mom taught me the importance of thank you notes. Birthday or Christmas money wasn’t spent or saved until I sent the thank you. So something seemingly small like a “thank you” is a big deposit for me. On the flip side, not receiving small common courtesies creates a significant withdrawal.
3. What constitutes a “deposit” for one person may not to another. I love eating out, so a friend treating me constitutes a deposit. But my mom would rather stay home, so for her birthday last year I signed her up for a catered meal delivered straight to her doorstep. This way, she didn’t have to go out, but didn’t have to cook either! Taking the time to get to know the like’s and dislike’s of your family, friends and co-workers will help you make more deposits and fewer withdrawals.
4. Withdrawals are typically larger than deposits. Covey says that trust is like a big bucket being filled with water (deposits) one drop at a time. Some withdrawals (the huge ones) are like kicking the bucket. We’ll all make mistakes but the goal is to not make the ones that completely empty the bucket and destroy trust.
Building trusting relationships can seem tricky, but remembering the framework of Trust Accounts keeps us mindful of making as many deposits and as few withdrawals as possible. As the balance grows over time, trust gets stronger.