[Leonardo]: I know that a life without love is no life at all.
[Prince Henry]: And love without trust? What of that?
-Ever After (1998)
Building trust and connection is a fundamental aspect of creating and maintaining healthy relationships. Whether it’s a romantic partnership, friendship, or professional collaboration, trust serves as the cornerstone upon which strong connections are built. I understand the significance of trust in fostering meaningful relationships. In this article, I share practical strategies to cultivate trust and deepen connections with others.
How to Build Trust and Connection, No Matter the Distance
“In order to truly understand this new ideal of communication [Digital Body Language], we need to understand the four laws of digital body language: Value Visibly, Communicate Carefully, Collaborate Confidently, and Trust Totally.”
– Erica Dhawan, Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust and Connection, No Matter the Distance
- Reading Carefully as the New Listening:
- In the digital age, conversations happen in written form, making careful reading essential.
- Comprehension is often hindered by skimming and searching instead of reading slowly and carefully.
- Establish clear response-time norms to avoid rushed and misunderstood exchanges.
- Writing Clearly as the New Empathy:
- Writing consciously is a mark of respect; check tone and be mindful of how messages may be perceived.
- Clearly define expectations in emails, including deadlines, format, and project length.
- Proofread emails to avoid misunderstandings caused by dropped words or misleading punctuation.
- A Phone Call is Worth a Thousand Emails:
- A good phone call can save time and generate goodwill, especially in the case of vague or confusing messages.
- Phone, video, or live meetings prevent excessive questioning and encourage the formulation of thoughtful inquiries.
- Requesting a call for sensitive dialogues shows thoughtfulness and active listening.
- Less Haste Equals More Speed:
- Avoid the pressure to respond immediately; fight the notion that every message requires an instant reply.
- Block off time in your calendar to respond diligently and patiently to emails.
- Re-read and double-check messages before sending to avoid errors and unintended recipients.
- Find Your Voice:
- Encourage a range of communication styles in a digital environment to accommodate diverse preferences.
- Leaders should adapt to different communication styles, whether formal or informal, to foster authentic engagement.
- Recognize and support the needs of introverted team members while providing space for extroverts to express themselves.
In her book, “Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust and Connection, No Matter the Distance,” Erica Dhawan provides valuable insights on navigating the challenges of communication in the digital era, emphasizing the importance of careful reading, clear writing, thoughtful conversations, patience, and embracing diverse communication styles.
How To Build Trust And Connection
1. Open and Consistent Communication
Effective communication is the bedrock of trust. Establishing open and honest lines of communication creates an environment where individuals feel heard and understood. Encourage open dialogue, active listening, and the expression of thoughts and feelings. Transparency and vulnerability are key components of building trust, so be willing to share your thoughts and emotions with others.
Consistency builds reliability and trust over time.
2. Reliability and Consistency
Consistency in actions and reliability in fulfilling commitments are essential for building trust. When individuals consistently follow through on their promises and demonstrate reliability, it sends a powerful message that they can be counted on. Conversely, consistently breaking promises or being unreliable erodes trust over time. Make sure your actions align with your words, and be someone others can depend on.
3. Demonstrate Empathy
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. By demonstrating empathy, you show that you genuinely care about the well-being of others. Take the time to understand their perspectives, validate their emotions, and offer support when needed. When people feel seen and heard, they are more likely to trust and connect with you on a deeper level.
4. Respect Boundaries
Respecting the boundaries of others is crucial for building trust. Everyone has their comfort zones, and pushing those boundaries can lead to discomfort and mistrust. Pay attention to verbal and non-verbal cues, and be mindful of personal space and emotional limits. When people feel that their boundaries are respected, they are more likely to feel safe and secure in the relationship.
5. Admit Mistakes and Apologize
No one is perfect, and mistakes are a natural part of any relationship. When you make a mistake, admit it, take responsibility, and apologize sincerely. Demonstrating humility and a willingness to learn from errors builds trust. Avoiding blame and deflection, and instead focusing on solutions and growth, fosters an atmosphere of trust and understanding.
6. Build Mutual Respect
Respect is the foundation of any healthy relationship. Treat others with kindness, courtesy, and consideration. Value their opinions and perspectives, even if they differ from your own. When individuals feel respected, they are more likely to reciprocate, creating a positive cycle that strengthens the bond of trust.
7. Digital Etiquette
Practice good digital etiquette. This includes using appropriate language, being mindful of cultural differences, and respecting online norms.
Related content: How Trust Works
Building trust and connection requires intention, effort, and consistency.
I encourage you to incorporate these strategies into your interactions, cultivating trust and connection that will contribute to the growth and success of your personal and professional relationships.