It isn’t easy to build trust either at work or home these days. As written in my last blog, one of the reasons why is that we can’t trust ourselves not to judge other people or situations, and others can both feel and see the evidence of our censure or limiting ideas. To help you delay judgment and stay open to possibilities that build respect I provided a simple acronym: S.I.T.
If you don’t have the time or patience to consider various interpretations of what’s going on; or if you’re in the middle of something and someone interrupts you, you’ll need a different technique to build trust fast.
Before I suggest it to you, let me share an article published in Time Magazine from 2015 about a study conducted by Microsoft with over 2000 people. The purpose of the study was to determine the length of the average attention span today. The result should surprise no one who checks their phone or email constantly: 8 seconds. That’s shorter than the attention span of the average goldfish.
If the average person’s attention span is only 8 seconds, and if trust is built on making a strong connection with others, then we’re going to need a new way to do it that’s fast and effective when we have neither the time nor the desire to consider multiple meanings to what’s in front of us.
I like to call it: “The Goldfish Rule”.
The Goldfish Rule is very easy to do.
In 3 steps and 8 seconds, you have given the other person your full, undivided attention, and–just as importantly–received 100% of theirs. You have aligned your intention to be of service with your facial expressions, body language and speech, an energetic powerhouse of heart, thought, speech and action that others can see, hear and feel. You’ve given your body a break from endless sitting and put a little more oxygen in your lungs and brain, which will serve you when you sit down again.
When you do The Goldfish Rule, the other person will get to the point much more quickly than he/she might have otherwise. You can use all your other good listening skills, like paraphrasing, empathizing and questioning, to make sure you understand. And once you have made the connection, you can quickly and easily determine the best response for the situation.
A Goldfish Rule conversation usually ends quickly. Thank the other person for coming in, sit down and go back to work. He or she will have to leave, but what will linger is your demonstration of commitment to their well-being and yours.
If your team is virtual and you’re interrupted by text, instant messaging, a call or email, the same steps apply:
If you feel you can’t email while standing, stand up, smile (both will make you feel better physically, since it’s biologically impossible to feel bad when you’re smiling), and then sit down and type one of the questions.
As for texting, let’s face it–everyone can do it standing up (just don’t walk while you’re doing it). Same with a call–just turn on the phone’s speaker. Your voice will be louder and clearer than if you are sitting. Better yet–start walking and talking, as if you’re out and about together. The conversation will feel much more animated and engaging as a result.
Performing the Goldfish Rule with someone who isn’t physically in the room does one other very important thing for you: it increases your mindfulness of the moment. You’ll feel more awake, which in turn builds self-awareness and can contribute to emotional intelligence.
If you apply the Goldfish Rule multiple times every week, you may start to feel more relaxed because your interactions will be more focused and meaningful. You may also sense confidence and trust building with your colleagues at work and your family at home because you are making a powerful connection in a short burst, similar to interval training where you go all out for a short period to rev up your energy to increase your metabolism overall. In this case, the results also linger long after the encounter has taken place.
The Goldfish Rule transforms a potentially uncomfortable situation where you feel trapped into an opportunity to keep yourself safe while looking through the glass at someone else’s world. And isn’t that worth 8 seconds?
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