The Easy-To-Miss Moments Where Trust Gets Built
Anyone else a fairly get-to-the-point sort of person? Growing up and into my early adult years, I had a hard time making sense of chit-chat. I would get so frustrated thinking, “We both know why we’re here, so is this really necessary? Let’s just get down to business.” I wrongly perceived my get-to-itiveness as a strength, when in actuality, it was a glaring deficiency in my emotional maturity.
People want to know that they're more than just a checkbox to be ticked. People flourish at an entirely different level when we genuinely have their heart—when they feel seen, appreciated, and valued beyond just what they bring to the table.
There’s a client I interact with regularly that is always on the ball but is also very light-hearted and humorous. He likes to spend the first couple minutes of every meeting telling jokes and seeing how everyone’s day is going. It’s part of his process to get people rallied together and engaged. So, I come to those meetings prepared to contribute to that ramp-up by mirroring back a similar energy.
Another person I work with starts almost every interaction with a 5-10 minute dump of everything she’s dealing with, even when it doesn’t pertain to the work at hand. She’s just the type that needs to externally process and make space in her brain for the new assignment in front of her. If I jump to the point too quickly without showing empathy or giving her ample time to process, it won’t be a very productive conversation. So, I come prepared to exchange my time and emotional energy for her openness and lightened burden. It completely changes the outcome of the conversation and both of us walk away having profited in the end.
It’s small moments like these where the success of the conversation is decided. Small talk is not something to be dreaded, it's something to be leveraged. It is actually one of the secrets to creating a synergy and momentum that gets everyone moving in the same direction.
When we leverage those small moments to spark a collective energy and encourage collaboration, there is connection, trust, and buy-in materializing in real time. If you pay attention to the room in those moments, you can actually feel that happening and see it on people’s faces. They’re smiling, they’re engaged, they’re leaning in, they’re responding. If you’re on the phone, you can hear it in their voice. Their pitch is higher, their language is positive, they’re upbeat, they’re receptive. That’s what you’re looking to create in conversation. That’s an indicator that people’s primitive tendencies to self-protect and self-promote have been recalibrated to the goals of the group.
Once you feel that click into place, that’s the optimal time to dive into the agenda and get some items checked off your list. So, the next time you walk into a meeting or jump on a phone call, come prepared with three new things:
Get comfortable delaying your agenda for the sake of creating meaningful connection with people.
Help shape the mood of the room and extend understanding as emotional needs arise.
Spend 5 minutes sparking organic conversation and mirroring back the energy that others bring.
Don’t despise the small, unscripted moments of connection. They accumulate trust, deposit goodwill, and increase the emotional health in each relationship.