The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, the annual global study often considered the gold standard in trust data measurement recently stated that, "In a year marked by turbulence at home and abroad, trust in institutions in the United States crashed, posting the steepest, most dramatic general population decline the Trust Barometer has ever measured."

A lack of trust in the workplace is responsible for a multitude of issues that detrimentally affect the bottom line. Now more than ever, businesses and CEOs have a critical role to play. Additional research bears this out. For example, the 2016 Global CEO survey found that 55 percent of CEOs identified a lack of trust as a threat to their organization's growth. Another study confirms that a whopping 85 percent of  employees are not comfortable speaking to their bosses about organizational problems or issues, due to lack of trust.

A breakdown of trust casts a negative net far and wide. There is no easy fix and the issues involved are complex. Yet, one thing is certain,  developing trust is contingent upon authentic communication. When the lines of communication collapse or are simply not effective, strategies will not be aligned, project goals and financial objectives will not be met, employee engagement will be low, and turnover of high-performing employees becomes excessive.

Leaders need to build upon collaborative dialogue skills in the workplace with an emphasis on dealing with challenging conversations. When you understand how to handle conflict, the bonds of trust between employer and employee is immediately strengthened. Conflict is perfectly normal and naturally arises in all aspects of life. But learning how to deal with conflict -- rather than avoiding it -- is central to building and maintaining trust.

Here are the three underlying themes that hold people back from developing trustworthy relationships in any business environment:

1. Low emotional regulation ability.

The emotional states of both leaders and their associates directly affect reasoning and the ability to process information, making emotional regulation an integral aspect of a productive workplace. Current examples of poor emotional self-regulation can be observed in many facets of life, including increased incidences in road rage, bullying, the need for anger management, rising divorce rates, and counterproductive political divisions. It is also particularly prevalent on social media, functioning as a reinforcing variable of social divisions. Healthy emotional regulation is vital for every one of us -- and particularly important if you are in a senior leadership role.

2. Poor conflict management skills.

The inability to resolve conflict is a common pain point in business today, deeply affecting an individual or a team's ability to collaborate. There is also a dearth of empathy, which is crucial in resolving differences. The need to "win" an argument gets in the way of productive resolutions, allowing animosity or avoidance of co-workers to prevail.

3. Ineffective approaches to interpersonal communication.

Without a doubt, a lack of interpersonal skills can derail a career, no matter how talented and accomplished one might be. Poor interpersonal communication is also bound to create a lack of trust between parties and engenders low tolerance thresholds for listening to varying opinions and new ideas.

Recent research, as well as the points above, affirm that in order for individuals and teams to be cohesive and productive, they need to be able to communicate extraordinarily well and build high levels of trust with one another. This means that leaders need to model equanimity, and be a source of calm reassurance and confidence. The process of meaningful change then, begins by establishing authentic, mutual understanding of others, through collaborative communication.

Published on: Feb 28, 2018
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