Heading up a growing business, you need a team you can trust to build the company with you. And that trust works both ways, as you will only get the vital team commitment and valuable contribution you need if you have built staff’s trust in you.

Fundamental to trust development, as it is to so many aspects of business and everyday life, is proper communication. Conversational intelligence is a key part of this – understanding the potential impact of team and one-to-one conversations and how you can affect this positively to help create a more connected, effective and trusting work environment. Many successful business leaders take this on board, developing better conversational intelligence to help their teams and their business long term.   

Balance of listening and speaking

Too often a work conversation is dominated by one speaker, who could well be the business leader. They feel they have something important to say, their view is the right one and, often unintentionally, don’t allow others to have their say. But by not opening up the conversation, they can alienate their staff, who end up feeling their opinions, and by extension themselves, are not valued. This is no way to build trust. And to make matters worse, the other people can also feel so frustrated that they no longer listen to what they’re being told and they are put off trying to engage in this or future projects. So no one wins and in the long-term business and trust suffers too.

Effective business leaders really listen. They’re not just waiting for the pause so they can start talking again or shooting down the other’s idea in their head before the other person’s finished speaking. They’re looking to connect, and are genuinely curious about someone else’s point of view and other possible solutions. Such an approach, covered in more detail in this One Thing You Have to Master to Succeed in Business and in Life article, opens up the co-creation potential of the team and encourages future innovative suggestions. It also feeds into a collaborative, positive work culture that can then better deal with inevitable changes.

Making the right impact

Good communicators also work to understand the impact of what they’re saying on the person they’re saying it to, how this compares to what they wanted to happen and how they can better align their intention with their actual effect. This ongoing adjustment results in greater trust, as this article on Build Your Conversation Agility: Align Your Intention with Your Impact explores.

Facing the difficult conversations

The best leaders are those who are also able to address the difficult conversations that need to be had, as explained in this Forbes article on Is Your Leadership Brave Enough To Have The Conversation You Don’t Want To Have? The danger is that these conversations are not being brought to the surface and addressed, but rather are the sub-text to other conversations or kept as internal dialogue instead being vocalised and talked through. This can mean missed opportunities, miscommunication and simmering problems. Building a corporate culture where real conversations can be had is vital to addressing this, as is recognising your own unspoken questions, and trying to listen to what is not being said explicitly.

By continuing to develop their conversational intelligence, the most effective leaders help to positively shape their corporate cultures and to build better connections and all-important trust across their business.

If you’d like to know more please contact me at sue@open2change.org.uk.