6 Cool Ways to Build Engagement & Trust (Without Using Those Words) (#240)

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In this solo episode, I share a concept that we talked about at a Vistage event that I went to. We talked about the 6 ways to encourage and develop engagement and trust in your environment without using those 2 words. We had a great discussion about this concept because while it’s essential and interesting, none of these things are easy.

Here are the 6 Cool Ways to Build Engagement & Trust:
1. How you accept information: Yes, and
2. Listen
3. Be present: be fully present
4. Make your people look great: give praise, take the blame
5. Dare to fail — or suck or be not that great yet
6. Create a safe environment
Bonus from Mike: Trust

Full transcript below

Episode timestamps:

[0:38] My great day with great minds
[3:05] #1 The way you accept information
[6:55] #2 Listen
[9:11] #3 Be present
[13:30] #4 Make your people look great
[16:14] #5 Dare to suck – fail – not yet great
[19:13] #6 Create a safe environment
[26:03] Bonus: Trust
[28:26] Outro

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Mike Malatesta  00:13

Welcome back to the How’d It Happen Podcast. This is Mike, I am joining you today for a solo episode. And we’re going to talk about something really cool. Yesterday, I had a fantastic day I had my monthly Vistage meeting. And that is for those of you who are hearing about Vistage for the first time, that is a group of people that I get together with a group of CEOs every month pretty much. And we have a full day of learning, we learn from one another and we learn from oftentimes we learn from a speaker that comes in and presents to us for you know, three hours or so yesterday. We had a speaker at our Vistage event his name was his name is Chris Nielsen. And I am going to talk about six things. with you today that we went over yesterday in really, really great detail it was one of those ones were super interactive, like Chris was telling us about these six cool ways to build engagement and trust with our inside our companies and, and with ourselves as leaders. And we were really debating these things because none of these six things are easy. And I thought I would do a podcast episode about the six things but really bring my own take to each of the six. And of course, as you know, my goal here is to inspire, activate and maximize the greatness in you. And I think that going through these six things will certainly inspire, hopefully activate. And you know, with your own spin on them, maximize your greatness and your ability to impact the people around you or the people in your company. If you if you do want to find out more about Chris, go to his website, it’s Chris Nielsen, that’s ni e l s o n.com. And he’s got a ton of great stuff there. And he’s a really great person, so connect with him on LinkedIn or, or wherever as well. So let me get started six cool ways to build engagement and trust without ever using the words engagement, or trust. And I’ll tell you why, at the end, why I think that’s important. The first is the way that you accept information. So the way that we that Chris actually defined, this was yes. And so yes, comma. And, and I had heard that before. And I even before Chris brought it up, I have been convinced that yes, and is a super powerful way for you to accept information from people, whether you agree with the information or don’t agree with the information without alienating the person who’s bringing you the information. So for example, most of us have been taught to say, No, someone comes to us with something that we don’t like, or we don’t agree with. We say no. And when we say no, we can, you know, it depends all depends on environments, it depends on how close you know people and all that stuff. But generally speaking, when we say no to someone as a leader, for example, we can alienate them, we can make them feel like bringing us an idea that we didn’t like is I guess maybe the first step two not bringing us any further ideas. And of course, leaving your company or or leading any type of organization, you definitely want people coming to you with with ideas and so no is first and then. And then I was taught at some point to say yes, but yes. This is like to a client request that I would bet we would normally have to say no to. We would say yes, but and then we would frame the answer in a way that You know, basically told the client, how we could actually do what they were requesting. So rather than saying, No, we can’t do that, because we couldn’t, we would say yes. But and then we would frame it in a way that we could actually do it, which may or may not be what they’re asking for. But it was definitely a way of affirming their request. And then, you know, pivoting, I guess, or shifting to another answer that we could actually live by. And then, and as I said, even before, we talked about it yesterday, I was I was told, or I was influenced to, or I was encouraged to, and I don’t remember exactly where to say yes. And instead of Yes, but the reason is that, at least but the way I was told, and I think this is true, when people hear the but the here and now. So when they say when you say yes, but they may very well take that as a no. And we already talked about why you may not want to leave someone with a no so. And you know, you know, you might be saying, well, if the answer is no, the answer is no. And that’s true. But if we say if we if you know, we talked about this a lot, but if you say, you know Yes. And you’re not saying no to the human, you’re not saying no to the person, you but you may still very well say no, to the idea or the suggestion. So we’re trying to preserve, you know, with engagement and trust, we’re trying to preserve people’s free, not freedom, their willingness to come to us with ideas, and we’re also protecting our delegation capabilities as well. Because if we can’t delegate to people, because they’re afraid to come to us with an answer that maybe isn’t the answer we would come up with, we’re probably going to stifle that person over time. So number one is yes. And number two is listen. And I’ve talked about Listen, a lot I’ve written about Listen, a lot. And you know, listening is really, really hard. Right? That’s what people say, it’s hard to listen. Well, now, it’s really easy to listen, right? We’re built to listen, we’ve got two ears, one mouth, you’ve heard that, you know, use them in proportion, and you’ll always be listening more than then you’re talking but but more than that, we make it hard to listen. We, I do and and all of you probably do as well, we make it hard to listen. And what do I mean by that? I mean, we put ourselves in situations where listening is really tough. You know, so we don’t, we don’t invite someone in at the at an opportune time for us to listen, for example, or, we, and because of that, let’s say we because of that we, you know, they’re they’re more of an interruption. And when someone is an interruption, we are less apt to you know, be really listening to them. The other thing is, we we often miss sounds terrible, and I know I do it and I tried to stop myself, but I know I do this, I listened to respond instead of listening to accept. And when I listened to respond, I’m not really listening because I am formulating how I want to go back at the person that I’m supposed to be listening to. So I’m listening to myself to my own brain, work through what my response is going to be as opposed to listening to the person that’s right in front of me, giving me something that I should be considering. And accepting. Again, whether I agree with it or not is not important. Considering accepting as opposed to you know, using the time purely from a listening perspective to be formulating how I want to be how I want to respond to to what they’re saying. So number two is listen. Number three is Be present. And this is something that is a big challenge for me and probably a big challenge for all of you. I know that I struggle with it, what, especially under certain conditions, and I’ll talk to you about those conditions, but it’s one of those things Listening that we say, Wow, it’s really hard to be present. And it’s really not hard to be present, it’s easy to be present, if you make the choice to be present, and why do we often not make the choice to be present? Well, a couple things. One, we don’t, you know, we don’t invite we, in order for us to be present, we don’t want to invite interruption. And sort of like what I was saying, with the listening, if someone just pops in on you, and with something important to talk about, you’re not ready for that. And you accept that, that that interruption into your life, the likelihood, and you’re working on something else, and the likelihood that you will be fully present is diminished, right, because it’s hard to just switch gears, when you’re focused on one thing, you have to, you know, stop and focus on another, it’s very, very difficult, because that thing is in your mind, just like with listening that responses in your mind, with, with, you know, the challenge to being present as you’ve got something else in your mind that you’re that you’re working on, or focused on, and it’s difficult to switch gears quickly. So I wouldn’t invite interruption, you know, if if, and people don’t expect, I don’t think generally to, you know, be interrupters, they, they’re totally good with, you know, scheduling something, or asking for permission or doing something else that gives you as the leader, an opportunity to sort of, okay, be prepared for it or slow down, stop what you’re doing, and then get prepared to, to be present. Second thing is, and this is this is, this is really easy. But we make it very, very hard. And that is I, I do my best. Again, when I’ve invited, when I have an invited interruption I do I do my best to put my phone on silent and in my pocket. And I do my best to not have a screen between me and the person that I am talking to, or who is visiting me, just those, you know, avoiding the interruption, and just putting those screens away. Helps me you know, focus and be present and be a good listener with the person, I will tell you that there’s it’s a it’s very, at least in my observation. Having the phone having your phone on the desk in front of you, or the table in front of you, or the place where you’re eating, having it on the table is very common. Very common. And either I’m like completely aware of it. And I still do it sometimes. It’s very common. And I think people don’t understand or don’t realize, or maybe don’t care, that having that thing. On on the foot on the table in front of you or anywhere where you can see it or any screen where you can see it is you inviting you inviting difficulty, presence, difficulty into your life because and you’re also you’re also telling the person that whatever’s on that screen or whatever’s on my phone is more important than what you’re saying to me right now. Because you can’t help not look at it if a text comes through or an email notification comes up or whatever the case may be. So just simple tip that’s worked for me not perfectly. But that has worked for me as you know it don’t make being present at the result of an interruption. And put the screens away. Put your phone in your pocket or put it somewhere where you can not see it and not flipped over because even when it’s flipped over, it is telling the person that my phone has to be right here with me because it’s more important to me than you excuse me. Number four, make your people look great. I just watched a I guess it was a webinar this morning with Drew Brees, the former quarterback for the New Orleans Saints and it was basically about leadership and Drew was saying what I think we all know, right? We all know this as leaders is like we our job is to make all of our people look great. So they get all the credit when things go well and we take all the responsibility when things you know don’t go well. So easy thing that I think everybody gets but my observation is that even though we get it we are very very challenged by it. And I don’t know why even I you I know, I know that I see that I, I hear that word AI is something that you know, it’s got a place it’s first person, when you’re talking about yourself, that’s the proper pronoun to use, I guess. But when we are in a leadership situation, we and you are both words that are much more powerful than I. So I’d say we and you is, you know, if you want to honor people, make them look great. Use we and you, too, when you’re talking about a win, and use I, when we’re talking about a loss, or a failure, or a not quite yet, or, or whatever you want to, you want to call it. That way, you are always giving your team. And you’re always giving your people the opportunity to look great while you are, at the same time, always taking the responsibility for things that that didn’t turn out right now, that doesn’t mean that, you know, behind the scenes, you’re not having good conversations with people about why things didn’t work out. What needs to be done differently, maybe who may maybe who didn’t, you know, hold up their end of the bargain. But that’s not something that needs to be out there in the public, that’s something you can take care of behind closed doors. And even if that is the case, you know, you I would say you have to win with the team that you have, right. So if that’s the team you have, and you can’t count on someone. No sense blaming that person, the blame is, you know, right, right in front of you. So we’re right at you look in the mirror kind of thing. So making people look great. Number five, we had a great discussion about this one. So so the way Chris put it was dare to suck. And some people didn’t like the word suck, and, you know, they don’t want to, they don’t want to put a negative word out there. And I I, I can appreciate that in and I don’t know if it’s the best word either. But so after a lot of talking about that we kind of settled on, you know, dare to fail, suck or be not yet Great. Whichever one you want to choose, you can you can go ahead and choose. But the point is, how how readily? And how often and how accepting Are you of giving people an opportunity to stretch their capabilities inside your company or inside of your life for that matter? And beyond, okay, if they don’t, you know, hit it out of the park. Be okay, if they don’t deliver the result exactly the way that you wanted it to be delivered, be okay for them to say, I’m really stuck on this. And I could use some help to get to the end of the, to the end of the road. How do you you know, embrace creative create an environment where you’re embracing people’s willingness to take on risk. Without the without the potential for complete failure? See, people know when they don’t make it. You know, almost everybody knows when they don’t make it exactly right. But it’s the learning. And it’s the effort. And it’s the progress towards that, that you know, that that creates the new capabilities in your company that creates new capabilities in your, in your people. So having an environment where people like that they can dare to fail soccer. Not yet be great. is very powerful. And I think and this is just my own experience, but I think that it’s rare it’s rare to inside of companies and I feel like it needs to be more or less rare. So dare to fail suck or not yet be great is something that wow, just just really recommend you sit back and kind of put that kind of put that thing out there and see what happens. You may be maybe really surprised. The number six thing was create a safe environment. This psychological safety net, I think is what Chris said. And this I think it came out of some Harvard business reviews study. But it was the number one thing, evidently, that made people feel engaged or disengaged about their, their work. And, and we had a really great discussion about this too. And here are a couple of things that came to my mind. First of all, I, in my own companies and in the companies that I’ve sold to, there’s there have, there is and has been a tremendous, and I will say tremendous emphasis on physical safety. And by by physical safety, I mean, not getting hurt, not getting injured. And there’s a lot of course, there are great reasons for that, right? Because you don’t want anyone to get injured. You want everybody to go home the way they came to work. You want your your safety scores to be good. So there’s a whole lot of there’s a whole lot of good reasons why that that concentration on physical safety is is really important. But what about what about the rest of safety? Like what? So say you have a safe environment? Physically? Any piece people aren’t getting hurt? That’s great. What about how safe is it? Otherwise? How safe is it for people to do the you know, to dip the dare to fail suck? Or not yet? Great thing and not feel like they’re going to be punished, degraded, demoted, or fired? Or whatever? And I’m not I’m no, I’m, I’m not one of these people. They nobody should be fired. Nobody should be disciplined. That’s, that’s, to me. That’s unrealistic. But, but you know, how safe like, for instance, Chris use this thing. He said, you know, is it is it like concrete, or you know, is failing, like, like, falling on concrete or into a net. And I hadn’t heard that before. I thought that was, that was pretty neat. Concrete hurts. And you don’t want to do it, again, where a net is saved, you know, you fall into a net, like, oh, okay, I can climb out of the net, and I can try it again. So I won’t, you know, I’m going to get better. And I’m not going to get hurt getting better. Whereas if I fall on concrete, I’m going to get hurt. And my my mind, my brain is going to tell me, don’t do that anymore. So creating a safe environment. Now, here’s the thing with it. Set of all of these, they’re all hard. But I think this one is the hardest. And here’s the reason why. You know, you’ve heard the, well, you can’t just say you create a safe environment. And you as a leader can’t just say you create a safe environment and assume that everybody in your organization is also prepared to create a safe environment. And I think that, you know, you go down different levels of management inside of a business and, and it’s hard to control. And control might be too strong or worse, it’s hard to influence is tried hard to control, it’s hard to monitor. It’s hard to correct. It’s, it’s all kinds of hard. And on top of that, people come into your organization from all different kinds of backgrounds and experiences. And for example, if I came into if I if I came into your business, and I came from a place where you, I mean, you got slapped down, if if you made a mistake, for example, I mean, slap down hard if you made a mistake, and that hurt. And you come into I come into your business now. And you tell me, Oh, it’s you know, we got a safe environment, we encourage collaboration, we do all these things. Am I going to believe you right off the bat? Well, I’d like to, I’d like to believe you. But my experience and my, you know, amygdala or whatever part of my brain is activated by what had happened to me before is going to say, Wait a second, I wouldn’t take that at face value. So that’s what makes it really hard. And I don’t have the answer for it. And I don’t think any of us did talking about it, except to say that you know, walk the walk, talk to talk and that’s not just one person that’s not just the leader but it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s like hugely important that everyone that is working with people inside of your organization. He believes in that, you know, no concrete we get we provide nets, not concrete mentality because if they don’t The word gets around and you become one of those organizations where you talk about being safe, but you don’t make it safe, you don’t ensure that it’s safe. And how you do that, I’m assuming the only way to do that. And the way I think I’ve done that, but I can’t be even I can’t be totally sure is to talk about it all the time. And correct, when you see something happen, or you hear about something happen, that doesn’t seem like it’s supporting that safety. So you know, if people stay safe, feel safe, they’re going to, I mean, I get that they’re going to, you know, perform, they’re going to want to perform at a very high level, they’re going to want to challenge themselves, they’re going to want to make you look good, while they make themselves look good as well. So, create a safe environment, do what you can to do it. Talk about it all the time, make sure you’re hiring, particularly in the management area, people who believe in that because not everyone does. And like I said, they may not not because they don’t want to, but just because they’ve never been exposed to it, they’ve never been trained on it, they’ve never been in an environment where that is not just okay, but it is encouraged and supported. And all of the other things. So I’ll end with trust. And this is just my, my personal opinion on just as soon as a company or a person starts talking about how important trust is to them, I get a little like the hair on my neck, and the hair on my arms sort of stands up a little bit. Because I don’t think this is just me, I don’t think that trust is something you lead with. I think trust is something that people say about you, they say they trust you, you don’t come out and say trust me. Because I just think I just think that puts people a little bit on the defensive, like in so if your marketing is about trust, and or you’re having conversations about trust, I say, I’d be I worry about that. And instead, I would do, like, for example, these six cool ways to build engagement and trust without ever saying those words. That’s that’s the strategy I would use because you know, you’ve got trust. When someone says, I trust you. You don’t know you have trust when you say trust is a core value, or we strive for trust or we are trustworthy. So just something to think about. I think that these six things that we’ve talked about today and then we and we talked about yesterday are just really, really interesting and exciting and challenging. These are all very challenging, but if you want to have the best company possible and you want to have the best people around you possible in in your business life or your social life or in your family life. Pay attention to these six things and think about them and think about getting better at every one of them. So that’s my little solo rant today. Hope you appreciated the information if you’ve got something you want to share with me shoot me an email or write me a comment and I will definitely address it and until next time, I hope that I inspire activated and maximize some greatness in you today. Thanks for listening

Mike Malatesta

Mike Malatesta

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