Improving Communication by Building Trust

Communication is part of everyday life, whether in person, via phone, texts, email, online meetings, social media, or other avenues. The messages often include tone, body language, facial expressions, and perspective clues. Communication has the potential for understanding and productivity or misunderstanding and disengagement.

Including care and compassion in our conversations during stressful times becomes even more critical. Those who have experienced trauma in their lives may be experiencing re-traumatization and others may experience anxiety, worry, fear, and other depleting emotions.

Can you think of a time when communication activated feelings of inspiration and connection? What about a time when a conversation activated feelings of anger or frustration? Effective communication renews us, while Ineffective communication drains our energy. Both responses to a conversation affect motivation, performance, quality of work, and relationships. By nature, we shift into engagement with effective communication and into protective mode when we feel threatened.

Building Trust
It is challenging to hear a message when we don’t feel listened to, valued, or appreciated. Effective communication requires mutual respect and trust. Trust is critical. If we don’t trust someone, we cannot hear their message.[1]

According to Charles Feltman, there are four distinctions of trust: Care, Reliability, Sincerity, and Competence.[2] Care conveys that we value others’ interests and our own when we make decisions and take action. Reliability reflects our ability to meet our commitments and keep promises. Sincerity conveys that we are honest and say what we mean and mean what we say.

We further demonstrate sincerity in our ability to provide valid, valuable opinions supported by sound thinking and evidence. Competence indicates that we have shown the ability to do what we are doing or propose to do. With competence, there is the belief that we have the capacity, skill, knowledge and resources required for the task or project.

Trust in Action
Take a moment and recall a time when someone’s words allowed you to connect to a renewing emotion, such as confidence or appreciation. You may also remember a time when you aligned with someone and felt heard, valued, or respected. Was there also a connection to the four elements of trust? Did they care? Were they reliable? Sincere? Competent?

The first memory came from a conversation many years ago with a former boss. I had successfully implemented new systems and created new programs for the organization but was unsuccessful in my attempts to be promoted. One day I asked for a moment of his time and shared a prototype flyer I had created with the idea of starting a new company.

I felt a little anxious because I wasn’t entirely sure how he would respond and if he would immediately start looking for my replacement. Instead, he leaned back in his chair, smiled, and said, “I am very proud of you. You are finally starting to see your potential.” That company has been in operation for over 20 years. During the lean early years, his words inspired me. His belief in me was enough to motivate me to keep taking action. That conversation and the inspiration it provided could not have taken place without the safe space created with trust and respect.

Choose your response
The good news is that we can choose our response in the moment by simply slowing down our breath. As we take a moment to breathe in and out at a slower pace, our brain moves from a fight, flight, or freeze response. We can then choose how we respond. We can share how we feel, ask questions for clarification, and embody calm. When we are genuine and come to conversations with curiosity and respect, we create a coherence that leads to clarity and effectiveness in our communication.

Successful entrepreneurs and business people achieving goals together

Prepare to listen
Before you begin a conversation that may lead to depleting emotions, consider preparing yourself by making an intention to be respectful and to listen for the actual message.

Before ending the conversation, confirm mutual understanding between those speaking. State what you heard and ask for confirmation or clarification. This extra step often builds trust and a foundation for future discussions.

Words are weighty
As leaders, teachers, or parents, we must be aware that our words hold greater weight. When our words are commands rather than requests, there is an imbalance of power evidenced by the listener’s inability to refuse. Without mutual trust and respect, we can present as bullies.

It is essential that we choose our words carefully. We must be sensitive to the reality that our word choices can either demoralize or motivate others. When we sense discord, we should prioritize mutual understanding and get back into alignment with shared goals and missions.

Improving Communication
What will you do to find calm so you can listen deeply to others and not assume you know what another is thinking or feeling? What steps will you take to create effective and powerful conversations? What will you say or do today to lead to better understanding, compassion, care, and improved connection?

Interested in learning more about creating sustainable change for powerful conversations and trust for you or your organization? Let’s connect for a complimentary consultation and assessment. Please schedule a time via our website:, or call Stacey at 864-527-0425.

About the Author
Stacey Bevill, PCC, BCC. MPM® is the owner and CEO of Golden Career Strategies. She has over 20 years of business and marketing experience and has master’s level certifications in coaching, marketing strategies, entrepreneurship, and project management. Bevill is passionate about helping organizations improve communication, employee engagement and motivation, and mental fitness. She also strongly supports individuals in transition and those interested in personal leadership and vision, resiliency, and wellness.

Stacey is a credentialed Professional Certified Coach (PCC) by the International Coach Federation (ICF), a Board Certified Coach with specialty designations: Executive/Corporate/Business/Leadership Coach and Career Coach from the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE) and is certified by the internationally acclaimed Newfield Network Coaching Institute. Additional training includes Positive Intelligence, Conversational Intelligence Enhanced Practitioner, Inspired Leadership from Case Western Reserve University, and Coaching for Managers. Stacey is a HeartMath® Certified Coach, Trainer, and Stress & Well-Being Assessment Provider. She is a Flow Energy Balance Indicator (FEBI®) Assessment Certified Coach (Leadership Patterns) and a Strong Interest Inventory® and MBTI® Certified Practitioner. She is also a credentialed Harrison Assessments provider for both individuals and organizations.

She has received “value-added” training for her manufacturing clients: Certified Local Change Agent (credentialed by APMG), Certified Master Project Manager,® Lean Six Sigma Black Belt training certification, ISO 9001:2015 Standard & Internal/Supplier Auditor, IATF 16949: 2016 – Understanding Standard and Auditing, Stacey is a graduate of Leadership South Carolina, Leadership Spartanburg, The Women’s Campaign School at Yale, The Spartanburg County Foundation’s Grass Roots Leadership Development Institute, and Furman Connections: Women Leaders of the Upstate. She is an active volunteer with One to One: Women Coaching Women as a coach lead and volunteer coach and serves as one of four volunteer coaches in South Carolina for Stand Beside Them. She also provides coaching worldwide for Non-Profit Executive Directors through CoachAid. Stacey received the Rotary International District Service Above Self award in 2007.

[1] Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships by Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD

[2] The Thin Book of® Trust, 2nd Edition by Charles Feltman

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