3 Ways to Build Trust in Times of Change

Kristina Ralston
4 min readJan 3, 2020

Change is a constant presence, whether it be at work, home, or within ourselves. It often comes at inopportune times and when we least expect it. When change comes to our door, we often say something like, wait…I’m not ready for that to happen right now…can you come back next Tuesday when I’ve had some time to plan and prepare? No? Not happening? You sure?? Oh, great…at which point, the change tsunami swoops in and we are left treading water and struggling to keep afloat as all of our assumptions, expectations, and views of the world around us are destroyed in one swift motion.

In addition to personal impact, change can also do a number on the trust we have in relationships. Being mindful of this and taking intentional steps in times of change to maintain — and continue building — trust is critical. Daniel Coyle’s book, The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups, has been a north star for me in my change consulting, as actively cultivating a culture of trust and keeping people connected when change happens is not only necessary for a successful transition, but — and this sounds crazy, I know — do-able.

There are three ways to build trust when navigating change: building safety, sharing vulnerability, and establishing purpose. These skills happen in a progression, meaning we can’t be vulnerable if we don’t feel safe, and we can’t have an established purpose if we don’t feel heard or that we can be vulnerable and voice our true thoughts, honest concerns, and ask the questions we need to.

Building safety is done via establishing belonging cues that everyone understands and participates in. They create connection by providing clear, consistent, and unifying signals showing that we are close, we are safe, and we share something together. Examples of belonging cues are: making eye contact while in conversation with the person across from you; not letting your phone be a constant distraction; sending someone a thank you note for something kind/thoughtful they did for you; exchanging courtesies like “please,” “thank you,” and “I appreciate you/what you did.” Saying “Hello!” in the morning and “Have a good night!” when we leave at the end of the day are also examples of belonging cues that make us feel like we are a part of something bigger than ourselves, and that we have a solid spot within that…

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Kristina Ralston

Change strategist and leadership coach. Let’s change the conversation around change, together. Find out how at: empactchangeconsulting.com