How to Build Trust in Hostile Environments

Building Trust in Hostile Environments

eight person huddling
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

A friend of mine, who works in a factory-type workplace, took it upon herself to be a little innovative. She realized that the 2-component job she was doing was inefficient. Everytime she attached the fabric to the frame of a piece of furniture she was making, she was losing time picking up and putting down different tools. So, she decided to batch her work. She’d build 10 items, then switch tools and continue the second component of the job. She shaved minutes off the process and felt very successful. Except, a company like this values automation, rule-following, and process over innovation and creativity. The floor supervisor walked by her station and immediately lost his mind on her. What was she thinking going outside of the confines of the pre-determined process? He went straight to his supervisor, who then reprimanded my friend. Finally, after lunch, the issue was brought up once more in front of the other employees, stating weakly that they didn’t want to “single anybody out.” Right…My friend felt the eyes of her disapproving coworkers watching her throughout the meeting and felt flushed with shame.

When we think of the way we deal with students and the manner in which they often deviate from the processes we establish in our classrooms, how do we respond? Does that response contribute to or sabotage an environment of trust and creativity?

Dr. Darryl Stickel is a consultant who works with world-renowned organizations to develop trust. In fact, his favourite work is building trust in hostile environments.

He outlined some key rules that any leader can use to foster a sense of trust and three key qualities that foster trustworthiness.

Every leader has three levers at their disposal that enable trust within the organization. Here are the qualities and the questions you can ask to evaluate whether you are using these qualities as effectively as possible:

  1. Ability – Are you capable in your job? Do people trust in your abilities to get the job done?
  2. Benevolence – Do you have people’s best interests in mind and do they believe it? Do you think about the needs of the people you serve or do you think first of advancing your own mission and goals?
  3. Integrity – Does your behaviour reflect the values you hold dear? Are your actions consistent with your beliefs? Do you follow through on your promises?

Trust is the willingness to make yourself vulnerable to another party when you could choose to do otherwise and when you cannot be certain that they will act in your best interests.

People often base trust off of the balance between perceived uncertainty (How likely am I to be harmed?) and perceived vulnerability (How badly will it hurt?). If you can decrease the risk in both of these areas for the people you serve, the higher the trust will be in your organization, school, or classroom.

When I think about my friend, her trust in the organization for which she works is rock bottom. How can you increase the trust people have in you? Start asking some of those important questions.

 

Become a Connection Ninja

Become a Connection Ninja

In this growing global world, it continues to be more and more important to create meaningful connections with those with whom we work, live and play.  I recently had the pleasure of interviewing David Knapp-Fisher, who has been nicknamed the Connection Ninja. He shared 4 easy tips for making the most of your interactions in order to live a meaningful, service filled life.

black and white blank challenge connect
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
  1. When you engage with someone new, it’s important that you greet them first. Say “hi”, ask them some questions, be authentically interested in who they are!
  2. Offer some support in terms of getting them closer to their own goals. This doesn’t necessarily mean offering to help them move their house on the weekend or babysitting their kids all the time. It can be as simple as offering the title of a helpful book you read or forwarding a powerful podcast that aligns with what they love.
  3. Ask for help. That’s right! In order to push along a reciprocal relationship, it’s a good idea to ask them for help. Maybe they have expertise about something you don’t. Perhaps they’ve learned how to plan a trip to place you’d like to go. It could even be as simple as asking them to give you some feedback regarding a project you’re working on.
  4. Finally, this is often the part that people neglect. Circle back to them. You may have had lofty ambitions to connect in the future…how did that go? Did you follow through? A quick email or check-in text can go a long way in solidifying your new connection.

When I think about the skills we need to be teaching our students in preparation for this uncertain world, connection is an important one. How might you weave these 4 tips into your practice as an educator, leader or parent?

 

Storytelling is Leadership: 6 Sentences to Help your Story

IMG_4411

These days, I find myself observing and mentally noting with fervour the magical elements that conspire to empower great leaders. There is a universality about great leadership that makes it easy for those to assume that one either has it or one doesn’t. However, in this growth mindset culture, we know that to be a fallacy. Leadership is a cultivated skill not a role we’re simply born into.

Sure, it helps to be competent at the work you do because competence surely goes a long distance in helping to create trust. But, I’d argue that true leadership goes beyond being the best at your job. Leadership is about enabling those around you to be their best, do their best work, and doing so in a way that helps them to feel autonomous, valued, and empowered. From what I’ve seen, read, listened to, and from the people with whom I’ve personally spoken on the KindSight 101 Podcast (and within my own life), leadership is rooted in storytelling. A solid story can do more to convince people to believe you, join your ranks, or sell you ideas than any coercive, strategic approaches can. Show me a good storyteller and I’ll show you a good leader.

So, how to tell a good story? I recently read the book To Sell is Human by the amazing Dan Pink (Seriously, if you haven’t heard him on a podcast, read or listened to one of his books/speeches, you’re missing out! He’s a guru in motivation and sales…and he’s funny, too!). He introduced me to Emma Coat’s Pixar Pitch framework, which uses the Hero’s Journey to formulate your ideas/story/pitch into a palatable pitch. You want to pique curiosity, solve someone’s problem, create value, and be specific enough that someone can see themselves benefitting from the solution you offer.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Set the tone for the way things are currently: Who is in the story, where do they live, what is the context? – Once upon a time…
  2. Talk about the routine of life-the status quo- Every day…
  3. Create tension and a disruption from the status quo- One day…
  4. What are the consequences of that event or disruption? – Because of that…
  5. What are the further consequences? – Because of that…
  6. Arrive at the conclusion, where things have returned to stasis, but things are better than they were- Until finally…

Take the Finding Nemo Plot, for instance:

  1. Once upon a time there was a fish named Marlin who lost his wife and was protective of his forgetful son, Nemo.
  2. Every day, Nemo would be warned by his Dad not to venture beyond the dangers of their coral reef.
  3. One day, Nemo ignores the warnings and swims beyond the cozy comforts of his home, to the open ocean.
  4. Because of that, he winds up being captured and winds up in a fish tank in someone’s home.
  5. Because of that, Marlin begins a tireless journey to find his son with the help of a few kind creatures at his side.
  6. Until finally, Marlin and Nemo reunite and understand that love is dependent on a sense of trust.

Here’s the Small Act Big Impact story in six sentences:

  1. Once upon a time, there was an education crisis in our schools and communities across North America and the World-at-large.
  2. Everyday, more than 25% of our students were mired in hopelessness, stress, depression, anxiety, and loneliness, to the point where it made it hard for them to learn, connect with one another, and feel deep and authentic happiness and life satisfaction. This was affecting their learning and well-being, making it hard for them to be their best expressions of themselves.
  3. One day, neuroscientists discovered that happiness and fulfilment could be derived from generosity and kindness on a chemical level in the brain. We learned we could learn to develop kindness habits that would release continuous happiness hormones not only to those demonstrating generosity and receiving kindness, but to even those who witnessed it.
  4. Because of that, Small Act Big Impact developed a 21-Day Kindness Challenge to encourage students, teachers, parents, businesses, communities, and educational leaders to develop meaningful habits of kindness that would ripple out into the community, inspiring people to adopt the habits, themselves.
  5. Because of that, students, teachers, and leaders began feeling happier and more hopeful, bringing levels of hopelessness, stress, anxiety, and depression down.
  6. Until finally, everyone knew that the path to living happy lives resides in our ability to help one another through deep and intentional kindness.

How will storytelling help you to become the leader you want to be?

Back to School~Tips for Success

IMG_1280

Whether you’re a well-seasoned teacher or fresh in the field, it’s always great to gain insight into tried, tested, and true tips for success in the classroom. In this episode, you’ll come away with some great ways to prepare yourself and your classroom environment for a successful year, before the kids even set foot in the classroom. Hope you enjoy part one of this back-to-school series.

I am so excited to launch these new episodes because they are loaded with back to school strategies that you can implement right away to ensure you have a successful year with your students. I put a call out to some of my colleagues and was overwhelmed by the wealth of experience, creativity, and generosity.

This first episode focuses on preparing yourself and your learning environment in such a way that you not only optimize learning, but that you feel calm and happy as you prepare for the upcoming year.

  • You’ll hear from 4 experienced teachers about 4 strategies that’ll help you show up authentically for your students
  • the hidden curriculum every teacher should be focusing on this year
  • a proven tactic for increasing self-regulation on Monday mornings
  • key questions to ask yourself as you set up your physical space.

I have already planned to incorporate these tips within my own practice, I hope you find it useful for you, too!

Thanks for listening! If you liked the episode, please feel free to leave a review on iTunes!

The Magic Ratio you Should Employ to Ensure Success in your Relationships at Work, School, and Home

 

hearthands

The Magic Ratio you Should Employ to Ensure Success in your Relationships at Work, School, and Home

When we think about the little people in our lives who are already faced with fighting larger battles than we will ever know, empathy and compassion kick in, urging us to be diligent with our word, lean in closer with our hearts, and to listen carefully with our ears. Even so, we find ourselves, especially as parents, employers, teachers, and educators having to give feedback, on a regular basis, about behaviour, performance, and effort.

I’ve always struggled with this. How do we hold space for and build up children and individuals who struggle with their identities, home lives, and mental health, while upholding our responsibilities as educators to hold them to high expectations?

I remember a particularly challenging student I had who must have experienced nothing but negative interactions throughout his day. He would literally arrive at school buzzing and had such a difficult time settling into any routine. He was disruptive. He struggled academically. He could be very rude. He had a soft heart with rock hard armour and he would launch into fight-mode so as to preemptively ward off perceived threats at the drop of a hat.

The cumulative daily burden of the chastising by his parents and family, thwarted peer-to-peer connections, and the negative comments coming from teachers and principals must have been a heavy load to bear by the time this boy went to sleep at night. It often weighed heavily on me that I could be contributing to his negative self-concept with my own demands on his behavior. I couldn’t help but think about the compounding negative effects of his mostly negative exchanges day-over-day, week-over-week, month-over-month, and year-over- year. No wonder so many of our struggling, at-risk students lose their curious spark and love of life by the time they leave us in Grade 12. So many of them have received consistent messages telling them that no matter how hard they try, they will never be good enough, never measure up, never amount to anything.

So, like many dedicated educators I know, I tried my very best to maintain positive interactions with him frequently throughout the day, no matter the kind of day he was having. Sure, I had no choice but to correct him often, but it was my mission in life to ambush him with love and respect during our time together. And, I always accepted and celebrated approximations of desired behaviour! As a result, 8 years later, he still visits my classroom, lamenting that our time together had to come to an end.

Whenever I think of this student, or many like him who have followed in his footsteps, I wonder how to offset the negative feedback we have no choice to provide from time to time. Boundaries have to be set and reinforced, even in a loving environment.

I recently stumbled upon a study done by relationship researcher Dr. John Gottham which really got me thinking. I guess I had never thought of my interactions in such a data-oriented way, but it made me wonder if perhaps I had adhered to a proven ratio without even knowing it.

According to Gottham, there is a scientifically proven 5:1 ratio of authentic positive to negative interactions that exist within effective, healthy relationships. This means that for every one negative feeling or interaction between individuals, there must be five positive feelings or interactions. In other words, “unless positive interactions outnumber negative interactions by five to one, odds are that the relationship will fail.”

What if it was this easy? What if we could be a little more aware of our positive to negative interactions, keeping Gottam’s rule in our head as we do so? How might our classrooms cultures be different?  How might we feel knowing that most of our interactions were positive?

We all know that successful educators are effective because of the relationships they build. So, I would argue that if we want to be successful as parents, teachers, employers, and even spouses, this ratio should stay at the forefront of our minds.

#smallactbigimpact21days

IMG_0110

https://www.gottman.com/blog/the-magic-relationship-ratio-according-science/