Trust and The Art of Building Good Relationships in Organisations

How do you build and cultivate your relationships?  What do you do to create trust?  When building relationships with clients, it is essential to build rapport with them as soon as possible.  And deepen that rapport through empathy and trust.  The same applies with work colleagues.

So, how do you create that initial sense of trust, reliability, authenticity and credibility with clients and colleagues?

It has as much to do with what you do with your body as it has with what you say with your words.  Indeed, regulation of your body through awareness and self-management will guide what you say, when and how you say it.  Enabling you to create good relationships and continue building and cultivating them over time.

Lunchtime Party

As an affiliate trainer with Elevate, expert solution providers for physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, I was called in to create a workshop on The Art of Building Good Relationships.

Rather than a talkie, lunchtime session, the client was looking for something more practical and interactive.  The neat rows and columns of chairs at the start of the talk ended up looking more like the morning after a party.  Chairs and food plates were scattered throughout the room as people worked in small and large groups during their lunch hour.  They explored how listening, communication and rapport could be used more effectively to build trust.  And therefore, cultivate better on-going relationships.

The foundation of the session was The Three Circles of Energy, a model devised by Voice Coach Patsy Rodenburg.  Her book, Presence- How to use Positive Energy for Success, sets out her simple and incredibly effective model.

Her premise is that you can consciously improve your presence, to impact positively all aspects of your life.  So, through this workshop, I used her model to support participants in gaining greater awareness of how they show up in their relationships with colleagues and clients, what they can do to improve their presence and the impact it has on the people around them.

The Three Circles of Energy

In relationships, we interact in three broad styles.  Different relationships see us show up in different ways.  And these styles see us have different impacts on the people around us.  We do not live and work in isolation.  Our mind and body influence each other.  And our state of being influences the people we share our work and lives with.  There is a time and place for every circle.  But, if you lapse into unconscious habits, patterns and preferences, you may not be getting the results you want from the relationships that are so important to your career success.

Circle 1

Circle 1 is the circle of withdrawing and pulling away.  It can come across as shy, self-conscious and even uncaring.  The mind’s attention is focused inwards.  And the body is small- eyes cast down, shoulders stooped and perhaps arms and legs crossed.  At best, this is the circle of introspection and reflection.  At worst, it leaves you open to victimisation.  It can be limiting and disabling as it holds you back.  If you ran a meeting like this, it would not confer confidence or trust in your leadership.  If a colleague came to you for advice, you might come across dismissive.  However, if you were deeply focused on spread sheets or some other fine detailed task, Circle 1 would give you the clarity and intention you need to do that well.

In Circle 1, your breath is shallow and fast.  You may even hold your breath.  Both of which mean you are soft spoken.  If this is your dominant Circle, you might wear dark clothes that allow you to disappear and not draw attention to yourself.

Circle 3

In contrast, Circle 3 is focused outward, expansive, the life-and-soul of the party, full of bluff and exuberance.  At best, you come across eloquent, enthusiastic and charming.  At worst arrogant, insensitive and overbearing.  People withdraw from you because your energy is expansive, non-targeted and lacks intimacy.  You gaze over people’s heads and therefore make loose and superficial connections.  Though this is a common leadership style, it is not always engaging and enrolling.  People do not necessarily feel safe and nurtured in your presence.

Though you attract attention, Circle 3 feels quite lonely, as people keep their distance.  Your body takes up space, dominating others.  Often you are armoured for self-protection, perhaps bullish or antagonistic.  You are loud and wear clothes to be seen and noticed.

Circle 2

If you are finding you’d like better relationships with colleagues and clients, or even with your children, partner or friends, perhaps Circles 1 and 3 are getting in the way of going deeper?  This is where Circle 2, the circle of presence and authenticity comes in.  Once you recognise you are in either Circle 1 or 3, you can make a conscious choice to move into Circle 2.

In this Circle, you are centred and grounded.  Your posture is relaxed and upright.  You are aware of your feet on the floor, your breathing is slow and steady.  Your eyes are focused on the person or people you are talking to.  You take up space and give permission to others to do the same.  You are both giving and receiving through active listening and communication.

This is achieved by “breathing to” the person you are with.  Focusing your breathing on them creates connection, curiosity and presence.  In the workshop, we practiced this in many ways.  You can do it in person.  It even works through the computer screen (so important in these Covid times).

In this space you are calm and alert, open to empathy, connection and intimacy without judgement.  This is the circle of being in flow or in the zone.  Circle 2 confers trust.

Circles in Action

In the workshop, we explored these Circles and how to move between them.  Then we did exercises around listening and communication.  Participants noticed how much better they listened and articulated their ideas in Circle 2.  And they noticed the impact someone else had on them when in Circle 2.

So, in the space of an hour, participants learned and practised tools that helped build on-going relationships through trust.  By consciously choosing Circle 2, they could listen more deeply, communicate more effectively and build rapport more quickly.  All of which engender trust.  By building awareness of Circles 1 and 3, they could notice more quickly what Circle they were in that limited relationship building and quickly move into Circle 2.

Circle 2, the Circle of presence, was where judgement-free curiosity, intimacy and connection could be cultivated, key foundations to building trust and relationships with clients and colleagues.

And because this is a human thing, participants had tools to help with their relationships at home as well as work.

Over to You

What Circle are you predominantly in? How is that impacting your relationships with clients and colleagues?  Do you think you would benefit from being more in Circle 2?  What are you noticing in your teams regarding their Circle preferences and the impact that’s having on productivity, rapport and well-being at work?  How would your place of work look different if people where more in Circle 2?  What would client relations look like?

Pass it On

If you know someone in your network who is struggling with these issues at work, why not pass on the blog link to them and help their place of work create better relationships.

Ready to find out more?

Find out how I can help the people in your organisation build better relationships.