Building Trust

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In my last blog post, I touched on accountability and what an incredible force for positive change it can be within your organization.  One of the issues that puts a stop to this ideal from the beginning is lack of trust.  So, in this article, I will focus on how to build trust through vulnerability and open communication.

I've heard a lack of trust within an organization written off as merely a "mental health issue" and pushed to the side in open discussion.  Granted, a lack of trust is detrimental to one's mental health.  However, the CAUSE of this lack of trust is what should be addressed.  The lack of trust exists for a reason.  More often than not, it's due to the violation of said trust.  There are other factors that can play into a lack of trust within the work environment, but I'm going to focus on what can be done within your organization to help remove it and replace it with healthy and open communication.

1. It starts with you -  On the fire ground, you are either an asset, or a liability.  The same goes for being part of any team.  You must first be willing to take a look at yourself and identify whether you are a part of the problem, or a part of the solution.  One place to start is evaluating your people skills; how you deal with and treat other people.  This online test can help you identify your weaknesses so you'll know what you need to work on.

Learn to develop your emotional intelligence.  Not sure what that is?  Click here to learn more.  When I think of someone with emotional intelligence, I think of someone who:

- is self-aware of their feelings and the feelings of those around them

- self-regulates their emotions and holds themselves accountable for them

- is motivated by long-term success and not short-term rewards

- has empathy and can identify with other people by understanding their wants, needs, and viewpoints

- has good social skills which helps them work positively with others and manage conflict effectively

These are all elements that you can consciously put into effect.  Try it this week!  Consciously focus on listening to your team, staying cool under pressure, trusting your intuition, and not letting your emotions get the best of you.

2. Focus on appreciating others -  Be willing to say "thank you" and tell people how you appreciate them and the role they play in your life.  This is a form of vulnerability that often goes over-looked.  Everyone likes to hear how they are appreciated!  Make steps to actively express to those you work closest with that you appreciate them and what they do to contribute to the success of the team.  This type of vulnerability will let others know that they can trust you because you're willing to be honest and open in your communication.  It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.

3. Avoid gossip -  Gossip in a firehouse is rampant.  It is the most socially accepted and culturally destructive practice in firehouses across the country.  It's detrimental to a healthy work environment and undermines any trust that others might have in you.  Gossip isn't productive or respectful.  One of the quickest ways to eliminate the trust others may have in you is to spread gossip.  Stop the spread of this toxicity by being a force for positive change.  I see only one benefit of witnessing someone gossip; they are openly showing you that you shouldn't trust them.  Listen to what Dave Ramsey has to say about how he tolerates gossip within his multi-billion dollar organization: "I Hate Gossip!"

When actively put into practice, these steps can help build the trust that will foster a positive and healthy work environment.  Please comment and share!  I love hearing about the challenges you may be facing and what you've done to combat them!  Be hard to kill out there!

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