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Three simple ways to build trust—by reaching outside your comfort zone.
We give our energy to what matters. We only have so much of this precious resource that fuels our ability to connect with another person authentically. We can conserve energy by doing things the way we have always done them (being on automatic pilot), which may result in not growing a culture of inclusion.
When it comes to amplifying inclusion in the workplace, energy and a desire to expand our zone of familiarity are requirements. The following are a few ways leaders can build more trust and inclusion by dedicating energy to those who may not be outspoken, lack confidence, or the training necessary to understand the impact.
Business meetings. Scan the room (or online platform) before the meeting begins. Who don’t you know? Consider adopting a philosophy of being the “host of the party” and get a quick introduction of those people if possible. Also, go out of your way to ask the opinion of the quiet person. They may be sitting on a gem of an insight, idea, or challenge.
Networking events. Resist the temptation to spend time with those you already know or are more comfortable with because of shared experiences or similar backgrounds. Please don’t wait for others to come to you. There is a good chance some people will not approach you because of positional power or anxiety around not knowing what to say. Make it easy for them to learn networking skills.
1:1s. Multitasking (doing more than one task simultaneously) is a myth. Research shows that what we think of as multitasking is actually the process of going back and forth between two tasks. When we meet with someone and continuously check our devices, we are not giving people our attention and energy. When we can’t control the impulse to check our phones, we make others feel less important and erode trust. In short, we are reducing our leadership impact. Unless it’s an emergency, it’s not worth being distracted and making an employee feel “less than.”
One of the greatest gifts of leadership is the ability to change a person’s life by helping them grow their self-confidence through experience and attention. Seeking out people who are different from us and giving them the gift of our energy can reap tremendous benefits for you, them, and the company. Similarly, when we are truly present with others, we can increase trust and connection, which produces a fantastic ROE (return on energy).
Denice Torres, senior healthcare executive; founder of The Mentoring Place, a free career mentoring program for women; and CEO of The Ignited Company, a change management and DE&I firm