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The Real Problem With Communication Is Trust

The Real Problem with Communication is Trust

Poor Communication tends be the umbrella that many team and leadership challenges fall under. Consider these common issues:

  • The team member who, despite her knowledge and experience, withholds important information from other team members or departments.
  • A colleague who sits in the cubicle right next to you, but will only communicate with you in email or text regardless of urgency or nuance. You may get the sense that this person is always “building a case.”
  • The team member who is agreeable and seemingly “on-board” during team meetings, but later complains about the decisions made to anyone that will listen.

Do any of these sound familiar?

If you’re nodding your head right now, you have experienced one of the most common symptoms of a team break down. At face value, these are examples of communication issues. In reality, these are symptoms of a bigger problem. A problem that creates confusion and frustration, slows productivity and fosters an environment of suspicion.

The problem is lack of trust.

By trust I mean confidence in self, team and leadership. This may be the confidence in your team that they’ll have your back if you need help. Or confidence that your new idea will be considered. Or confidence that your manager is there for you, even when you make a mistake.  Without trust, you have suspicion. When suspicion thrives, the team breaks down.

Although turning the tide from a suspicious environment to a trusting one seems like a huge task-but it can be accomplished through a targeted set of behaviors:

Are you part of the problem?

When it comes to trusting and being trust worthy are you helping or are you hindering yourself or your team? If you run the rumor mill, publicly agree with your manager but privately undermine him, or avoid helping certain people because you “don’t like them”; you are part of the problem.  You must decide that you want to be part of the solution.

Leave your baggage (and judgments) behind

Here’s the deal: Mistakes are going to happen. Misunderstandings will occur. Deadlines will be missed from time to time.  These are opportunities to learn and grow. They are not excuses to judge or doubt your team members. So, when things get off the rails, figure a solution, recognize it as a learning opportunity and move on.

Do what you say

If you tell a colleague that you will send her a report by the end of the day, do it. If your team has committed to a same day turn time to answer internal questions, get it done. The bottom line: do what you say you’re going to do. If and when extenuating circumstances arise that prevent you from follow through-be transparent so that those that are counting on you can adjust their expectations.

Impact your sphere

Regardless of what your role is on your team or within your company, you have an impact on the people you work with. If you operate from a place of integrity, keep the best interests of the team in mind and, give your trust like a gift, you will positively influence those around you.


Want to learn more about trust building or communication for your organization? Contact us at or (888) 529-0240 for more information.

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