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After our first edition of The Feels, reader Allen S. suggested I watch Frances Frei’s TED talk. So I did.
Her first line hit me like a ton of bricks:
- “I want to talk to you about how to build and rebuild trust, because it’s my belief that trust is the foundation for everything we do, and that if we can learn to trust one another more, we can have unprecedented human progress.”
Unprecedented human progress! That’s what I believe! I’m stealing that. I love her already.
Frei spoke at the 2018 conference in Vancouver. She’s a professor at Harvard Business School.
She says trust is broken and we need to rebuild it:
- “Now, trust, if we’re going to rebuild it, we have to understand its component parts. The component parts of trust are super well understood. There’s three things about trust. If you sense that I am being authentic, you are much more likely to trust me. If you sense that I have real rigor in my logic, you are far more likely to trust me. And if you believe that my empathy is directed towards you, you are far more likely to trust me. When all three of these things are working, we have great trust. But if any one of these three gets shaky, if any one of these three wobbles, trust is threatened.”
That’s an interesting model.
Here she is on empathy, her third component of trust:
- “So the most common wobble is empathy. The most common wobble is that people just don’t believe that we’re mostly in it for them, and they believe that we’re too self-distracted. And it’s no wonder. We are all so busy with so many demands on our time, it’s easy to crowd out the time and space that empathy requires.”
I love that description of empathy: others believing we’re mostly in it for them. Empathy is a tough one for me to understand.
Here she is on authenticity and how it’s tied to diversity & inclusion:
- “I find [authenticity] to be the most vexing. We as a human species can sniff out in a moment, literally in a moment, whether or not someone is being their authentic true self. So in many ways, the prescription is clear. You don’t want to have an authenticity wobble? Be you. Great. And that is super easy to do when you’re around people who are like you. But if you represent any sort of difference, the prescription to ‘be you’ can be super challenging.”
“I have been tempted at every step of my career, tempted personally and tempted by coaching of others, to mute who I am in the world. I’m a woman of super strong opinions, with really deep convictions, direct speech. I have a magnificent wife, and together, we have such crazy ambition. I prefer men’s clothes and comfortable shoes.”
- “In some contexts, this makes me different. I hope that each person here has the beautiful luxury of representing difference in some context in your life. But with that privilege comes a very sincere temptation to hold back who we are, and if we hold back who we are, we’re less likely to be trusted. And if we’re less likely to be trusted, we’re less likely to be given stretch assignments. And without those stretch assignments, we’re less likely to get promoted, and so on and so on until we are super depressed by the demographic tendencies of our senior leadership.”
This is tied to the concept of psychological safety we talked about last week, the belief that you won’t be punished when you make a mistake.
More on diversity and inclusion:
- “It is still much easier to reward people when they say something that you were going to say, as opposed to rewarding people when they say something entirely different than what you were going to say. But when we figure out this, when we figure out how to celebrate difference and how to let people bring the best version of themselves forward, well holy cow, is that the world I want my sons to grow up in.”
Go read or watch the whole thing.
(And thank you, Allen S.)
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