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My intention with each of these posts is that you’re challenged to interrupt the noise and routine in your life, just for a moment, to think more deeply about what really matters in life… your relationship with yourself and with others in your professional and personal life.

Welcome to this month’s Tap Into Trust topic.

Each month through 2021, I’ve made a commitment to Barbara Brooks Kimmel, CEO of Trust Across America-Trust Around The World (TAA-TAW) to research and explore a specific topic that focuses on how trust impacts almost every measure of success in our professional and personal life.

I will be using the acronym TAP INTO TRUST which is an initiative from TAA-TAW.

Each letter in the acronym TAP INTO TRUST represents a one-word topic. Here’s the video for Episode 8 on Transparency. (If you’d rather read than watch, the transcript is below).

This month’s topic is on Transparency

Here’s an aspirational action-based statement for you to use this month as you think about and apply this information and strategies on the topic of Openness:

I reject hidden agendas, gossip, and politics. I am transparent wherever and whenever possible.

One of the essential actions in rebuilding trust when it has been lost or damaged, is to be transparent in reporting your progress to fix whatever damage has been done.

And… That type of transparency is essential in rebuilding trust, but… it’s also a reactive strategy isn’t it.

Being Proactively Transparent

Rather than wait for something to go wrong, when trust is damaged and you need to be transparent to rebuild the damaged trust, wouldn’t it be better to be a bit more proactive and avoid damaging trust in the first place?

Transparency can be a core strategy to proactively earning, building and maintaining trust, rather than only being a strategy when trust has been broken.

You see, if we only worry about trust when there’s a need to rebuild it, the reality is, it’s probably a bit late.

Intentions Matter

One of the pathways to positive and proactive transparency is to start with clear intentions, and align our intentions with ethical planning and decision making, that’s directed toward making life better for others in some way.

And you might think that sounds too altruistic, but the reality is, when you focus your intentions to proactively and positively make life better for others in some way, it will typically result in positive increases to your own well-being.

What I’m not suggesting here is that full transparency is essential all the time.

Remember the action statement I mentioned earlier says ‘I am transparent wherever and whenever possible.

There are obvious reasons not to reveal everything to everyone – especially in business when we are operating in competitive markets.

Some Questions:

However, I’d like to pose a couple of questions for you to think about.

And the first is what reasons might there be to choose NOT to be fully transparent?

And a second question is, what might the impact of your lack of transparency have on trust?

Self-Trust

Thinking about this through the lens of Self-trust, when we are in a situation where we might choose to withhold important information, or not openly share our thoughts or feelings, especially when we know it is the right thing to do, we will create a conflict within our own sense of self-trust … because we’re acting against what we know to be the right thing to do.

Now, the research is clear here … whenever we act in ways that are not aligned with our own beliefs, our values or our principles, we feel conflicted and that has direct psychological and physiological impacts on our well-being.

When we know being transparent is the right thing to do, and we live up to being transparent in those situations, we feel better about who we are, and our sense of self-trust is strengthened.

Trust Others

Thinking about transparency through the lens of Trust Others, when we suspect another person is not being fully transparent with us, our propensity and courage to take the risk to trust others will be reduced.

If we suspect others are not being fully transparent with us, and we sense that they are holding back on their thoughts, information or feelings, the research shows we can quickly start to be less transparent ourselves, and become more guarded about our own thoughts, or sharing information or expressing our feelings.

All of this ends up in a lack of trust where collaboration with others becomes problematic, relationships are at risk, and success is less likely in the long run.

Earn Others’ Trust

Finally, thinking about transparency through the lens of Earn Others’ Trust, the more consistently transparent we are in situations where it is appropriate to be so, the more people will judge our character and our competence as being worthy of their trust … our trustworthiness is on display through our intentions, promises, actions and results.

Through research outlined in their book ‘Crucial Conversations’, authors Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzer suggest we often play communication games instead of being fully transparent.

Games We Play

Some of the games we play are quite silent in their nature, including withdrawing from the conversation, avoiding the conversation, and masking our true thoughts and feelings.

Other games we play are more violent in their nature, including controlling the conversation, labelling and name calling others in the conversation, or attacking other people’s ideas or feelings.

When we are playing communication games, which also include hidden agendas, gossip and politicking, we are not being transparent and not acting in ways that earn others’ trust.

So, for this next month and beyond, focus wherever and whenever you can on being more transparent with your intentions, your feelings, your promises, your actions and your results.

Take notice of how your intentional decisions and actions to make life better for others in some way has a positive impact on yourself as well.

That’s it for this month’s topic on Transparency.

Next month’s topic is Respect and until then, my very best to you.

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