Trust on Purpose

Strengthening Connections While Embracing Dissent

January 22, 2024 Charles Feltman and Ila Edgar
Strengthening Connections While Embracing Dissent
Trust on Purpose
More Info
Trust on Purpose
Strengthening Connections While Embracing Dissent
Jan 22, 2024
Charles Feltman and Ila Edgar

Send us a message - we'd love to hear from you

Uncover the secrets to maintaining trust despite disagreements in our latest episode, where Ila and Charles delve into why dissent doesn't have to spell distrust. As we walk you through the delicate interplay of expressing differing opinions, you'll gain strategies for keeping trust intact. Our experiences with clients in the throes of work-related disputes serve as a rich backdrop for this discussion, highlighting the role of psychological safety and the four trust domains. 

We want to thank the team that continues to support us in producing, editing and sharing our work. Jonah Smith for the heartfelt intro music you hear at the beginning of each podcast. We LOVE it. Hillary Rideout for writing descriptions, designing covers and helping us share our work on social media. Chad Penner for his superpower editing work to take our recordings from bumpy and glitchy to smooth and easy to listen to episodes for you to enjoy. From our hearts, we are so thankful for this team and the support they provide us.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a message - we'd love to hear from you

Uncover the secrets to maintaining trust despite disagreements in our latest episode, where Ila and Charles delve into why dissent doesn't have to spell distrust. As we walk you through the delicate interplay of expressing differing opinions, you'll gain strategies for keeping trust intact. Our experiences with clients in the throes of work-related disputes serve as a rich backdrop for this discussion, highlighting the role of psychological safety and the four trust domains. 

We want to thank the team that continues to support us in producing, editing and sharing our work. Jonah Smith for the heartfelt intro music you hear at the beginning of each podcast. We LOVE it. Hillary Rideout for writing descriptions, designing covers and helping us share our work on social media. Chad Penner for his superpower editing work to take our recordings from bumpy and glitchy to smooth and easy to listen to episodes for you to enjoy. From our hearts, we are so thankful for this team and the support they provide us.

Speaker 1:

Hi, my name is Charles Feldman.

Speaker 2:

My name is Ela Edgar and we're here for trust on purpose.

Speaker 1:

And do you want to enlighten folks as to what trust on purpose is about?

Speaker 2:

Well, let's say that it's a podcast where we talk about all things trust related and the interesting thing is our focus is typically on leaders and leadership. We find, through feedback from our listeners, that this also filters into many other aspects of life which we know. Trust is about human relationship, so we unpack all sorts of things regarding human relationship and how trust helps or hinders, or sometimes both.

Speaker 1:

Well said, thank you. In this particular episode, we're going to focus on the relationship between trust and disagreement. In other words, when we disagree with someone else, does that necessarily impact trust, the trust we have with that person? And I'm just set this up by telling a story about a client I was working with a while back who reported to a very top level leader. She herself was pretty high up in the organization when she often not all the time, but often when she disagreed with her boss, her boss responded as if she felt that my client, by disagreeing with her, was in a sense saying I don't trust you, I don't trust your opinion, I don't trust your idea, your solution. So the leader went from disagreement to distrust. In bringing it into this conversation today, what we want to look at is how can we disagree and maintain or maybe even strengthen trust in a relationship? So I'm going to stop there and ask what comes up for you, illa.

Speaker 2:

All sorts of things in this moment. So I'm actually thinking of a client that I'm working with right now where I would say the same is true that anyone in the senior leadership team that says I'm not sure could we talk about I have a different opinion. It automatically means although not spoken, but you can sense the mood and energy and see how people shift themselves in conversation that there is no space for that, that you're basically saying I don't trust you, I don't trust your decision. Oh, this is getting juicy, which is also super fascinating because this senior leader is new in his position. Oh, I know.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Oh, this is a juicy one. So the question that comes up for me too is also what's our relationship with conflict, or perceived conflict? The other thing that I'm curious about is how does psychological safety play into this? So, in the messiness of disagreeing, I'm a void conflict, or when I perceive to be conflict, and I'm not sure that I'm psychologically safe to actually put an intellectual friction idea on the table, not a social friction. I can see how people are walking around all over the place saying that they don't trust people or feeling that they don't trust people because we haven't created the space for disagreement. Sorry, that was a bit of a rant. Did anything make sense in there?

Speaker 1:

Yes, actually, and where it takes me is thinking again about the four trust domains that we use often, so often when we're talking about building and maintaining trust. For me, the domain of care, that is the assessment that you have my interests in mind as well as your own, or at the very least our shared interests in mind, that you intend good for me. That's that assessment. So I trust that you have all of that and the less that's in place. We don't have psychological safety. I think that's kind of fundamental. But I think that's the domain of trust that has not been built well, it's not supported. When people kind of have this confusion of if you disagree with me, then you don't trust me, or if I disagree with you, maybe I don't trust you, and so either people back away, like you were talking about, shut down because that's really uncomfortable, kind of scary to engage in a conversation with someone now that I think doesn't trust me, or maybe I don't trust.

Speaker 1:

The way out of that I think is really to attend as well as possible to that domain, to actually kind of open up a conversation, perhaps in around building trust in that domain, so that the person sitting in the team who is not saying anything because they don't feel like their idea, their thought, their critique will be appreciated, will be met with respect. The whole team is losing that person's input, right? Or just the leader? If it's the two of them and like I said in the case of the situation I just opened this with, is individual talking to her leader and her leader assuming or imagining that my client, when she disagreed, was in effect not trusting. So are there other trust domains involved as well? That's one question that comes up for me, and another one is how do people get out of this so that they can in fact disagree and maintain trust?

Speaker 2:

Great questions. If we look at the other domains, here's a couple of things that I'm chewing on in this moment. In the domain of competency, if I haven't developed the ability to speak and share my thoughts and then pausing I wish you guys could see. So now the wheels are really turning. The good thing you guys can't see me. It's smoke coming out of my ears and I'm trying not to relay this as a generalization, and in my experience maybe I'll just speak from my own experience Many of my early leadership years my voice wasn't valued, and so I learned how to not speak up, how to not share my opinion or my suggestion or my idea, because I had been consequenced in the past that it don't do that.

Speaker 2:

That's not what you're here for. And so, if we look at the domain of competency, there was a time in my leadership years where I needed to relearn and actually strengthen that muscle. So I think there's competency. I think it also goes into sincerity, because I'm thinking things. I may be very spicy or very passionate about something in the moment, but not speaking it can be a withholding and an insincerity about my care about this topic, about this project, about this, whenever we're trying to move forward, so I'm gonna pause there now. What comes up for you as I say that part?

Speaker 1:

Well, first I wanna go back to competence. So for you, you became sense, competent at not speaking up, absolutely. But I think there's another aspect of that that really plays into this, which is competence at speaking up and sharing, at disagreeing. I think disagreeing well, disagreeing in a way that supports and builds rather than tears down and I have seen lots of examples of people disagreeing in ways to tear down the other person or the other people in either direct or subtle ways, and that clearly damages trust. It damages trust in the domain of care, but what's going on is a need for competency in the ability and the domain of disagreement.

Speaker 2:

Right, yes.

Speaker 1:

That being able to speak about how I feel, what I think, in a way that doesn't invalidate or negate what other people think, how other people feel. I think there are a lot of people, especially with the newest generations and I've kind of lost track of the label that we put on the newest couple of generations that are moving into the workforce, so I'll just say the younger people in the workforce they're still learning that, they're still learning that particular competence, and so they can come off as abrasive in some ways that can damage trust. So then, going into the domain of sincerity, I love what you said there.

Speaker 1:

If I am withholding, I'm not being sincere, I'm not trustworthy myself. In the domain of sincerity, if I'm either withholding or only sharing part of what I think because I don't feel like I will be supported, I'm also myself being untrustworthy to the people around me. I think that's really an important piece to remember. It's not just about me protecting myself when I do that. As we've said before, when I distrust someone else and so I start beginning to protect myself out of that distrust, my habitual ways of protecting myself, defending myself, really look untrustworthy to other people. And so, in the domain of sincerity, holding back, not sitting really everything or even part of what I wanna say, or alternatively, holding it, holding it, holding it, and then suddenly an outburst boom, yeah, boom, throw a bomb into the middle of the room.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, I mean it's through. Another little idea that popped into my head as we're talking about this is the role of the itty-bitty shitty committee, in that I may have an idea or an opinion on a topic, but I could also imagine that little committee going oh no, that's kind of a stupid idea Like don't say that, or nobody wants to hear you, you're not really as valued here at the table, or somebody's already said that you don't need to say it again, and so then that also causes behavior that is withholding or disconnecting or not sharing, and so we do that to ourselves as well, and I'm putting up my hand. None of you can see me, but I'm putting up my hand. I've definitely been in situations where I had something I wanted to say and chose not to because the little itty-bitty shitty committee was going wild in my head. Who do you think you are that you're going to say something about this? Really like Ela, come on.

Speaker 1:

So what I'm hearing is that you are trusting the opinion of the itty-bitty, shitty committee over anything else. You're giving them the last word or the first word, or whatever it is, and trusting what they're saying, and in spite of knowing that that little committee of critics and iny-niny-niny in your head well, yes, it does have your interests in mind in some way, and that's why we tend to trust it. We believe that it's there to protect us in some way, and which can be said that it is. But there are other stakeholders at the table too, and can we trust those other stakeholders, if you will, in our little heads here that might also, and even more so, have our interests in mind?

Speaker 2:

That's right and that's where I just pulled up on my other screen here. In Dare to Lead and Brene Brown's book Dare to Lead there's some really great. She calls them rumble starters, but I think they're really really great ways to open a conversation. Sometimes that's another piece, as we don't know how to start, that there's already spicy crunchy happening and I don't know how to come into the conversation without being perceived as you're a naysayer. But you don't agree, you're just poking holes in and some of them, I think, are really great. The story I'm making up I'm curious about. Tell me more. I love this one. That's not my experience. I'd like to hear more.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's a good one.

Speaker 2:

Right, that's not my experience. I'd like to hear more. I'm wondering or we're both dug in? Tell me about your passion here. I think there's also, somatically, a possibility to call a timeout and pause and say you know what? We're all dug in. Why don't we call a 10 minute break? We'll come back and relit the conversation and so, moving the energy from the spicy crunchy of where it is and giving people a bit of space to breathe, exhale, walk it off. I also love she adds some rumble tools and these are really interesting to think about. What's my part and how have I played that part to get us where we are now? What would support look like? What key learnings can we take away from this? So there's just these lovely conversation starters or openers that allow us to move into versus move away.

Speaker 1:

Nice, I'm gonna just put in here that maybe it would be useful to define what Pernay means by the term rumble, because not all of our listeners may have read or had the opportunity, I should say, to read or listen to Pernay. So yeah, what are we talking about when we use that term that she uses so often and so effectively?

Speaker 2:

Now this is my own interpretation of it because I don't have the book in front of me, but I would say it's a rumble, is an opportunity to intentionally we'll use some of the trust language here too with care and some competence, enter into a conversation that we know could be crunchy, spicy, difficult. So it's the intentionality about how you come into the conversation.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, great.

Speaker 2:

Because we don't often do that right, we don't often do that. I'm gonna come sliding in, sliding in. I'm already heated. I wish you guys could see me, because my movements right now are epic.

Speaker 1:

You come sliding into third base.

Speaker 2:

Like I'm already pissed, I'm already crunchy spicy about this and I'm gonna show that I'm right and you're not.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, there, it is too right, it's the. I'm gonna show that I'm right and you're not. And if you disagree with me, that really just means you don't believe me, right? If you don't believe me, that means you don't trust me who? And so we're down to that point of disagreement, equaling distrust. Yeah, and, by the way, you use these great terms crunchy, spicy, and I kind of think I know what you mean by them, but I would love you to define what those are for you, for me.

Speaker 2:

So I don't really love the word conflict. That word in itself causes me to tense and to brace for impact. I don't really love the word disagreement. Again, for me, that creates a tension in my body, that's my relationship with those words Whereas something that's crunchy or spicy, oh okay. Well, we might have to chew harder here or stay longer, or the spice might get too intense, in which case then we dial back the spice. So for me, that's a way to be more open or lean into something that someone else might cause or call conflict or disagreement. So spicy crunchy for me is something that's and I'm a foodie, so I love anything to do with food and food analogies.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, especially.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, especially the spicy.

Speaker 1:

Yes, the crunchy tortilla chips with spicy salsa and salt.

Speaker 2:

And salt, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, thank you for that, Thank you for acknowledging that conflict and disagreement are not words that sit well for you. That's great, because they're words that I use all the time and I'm completely comfortable with, and that actually may come from my long-time experience as a mediator, yeah, and helping other people be in conflict and survive it and come through it stronger. But that's great. So crunchy, spicy, okay. So how do we, in a practical sense, in our work lives, in our home lives, in our community lives which, by the way, in our political lives how do we disagree and maintain connection? And trust is, I think, critical right now. It's critical in business because if we disconnect, if we start distrusting around disagreement, if we disconnect around disagreement, our work together suffers immensely Socially. If that happens.

Speaker 1:

It's just overhearing a conversation between two people, one of them saying that she withdrew from a group that she'd been part of, a group of friends that she'd been part of for a long time, because she felt that she couldn't trust them anymore because they all disagreed with each other or not all, but there were two camps that disagreed with each other and they just couldn't let it go. And then, of course, politically, right now we're in a place where, if we disagree, that clearly signals we don't trust each other and vice versa, we don't trust each other. So therefore, we must disagree with each other. So how do we can reverse that a little bit, and I think for me, the obvious place to start is business, because I'm just so Now that's where I do most of my work. One of the things that, of course, I think is invaluable is having a conversation about how we disagree. What are the some ground rules, if you will, or how we're going to be with each other when we have a disagreement.

Speaker 2:

I love that, and I'm actually reminded of Jenny Gilbert. You're getting another plug here that a team can actually create the what are the norms or how will we do this before we're actually in conflict or disagreement? So these cards that I'm holding in my hand are an example of you know. So respect is essential Ask rather than tell, focus on the task or the problem, not the person. Clarity be specific, observe rather than interpret. And so she put these stickers on some playing cards, a deck of playing cards, so each card has that sticker, and then one of the cards has a blue dot, and whoever draws the blue dot card, their role is specifically to be the.

Speaker 2:

What about? Let me poke a hole in that. Could I add another perspective? So I think what you're pointing to is designing and being intentional about. We will have some sort of spicy crunchy conversation at some point. How do we want to prepare for that? What do we want to do now and talk about now, so that when that happens not if it happens, but when it happens that we can hold this space and stay here together and not let it damage trust?

Speaker 1:

Yes, that's exactly right, and you keep saying this. I love your analogy here dig the well before we're thirsty. So there we are, designing, pre-designing, the kind of conversations that will support us in disagreeing and maintaining trust and connection in relationship, and being really specific, too about that. What does it really look like? What do I interpret as respect and what do I interpret as disrespect, for example? So any of the descriptors that you just mentioned for example, I was working with a group and respect came down to we don't talk over each other.

Speaker 2:

I love that.

Speaker 1:

Our disagreement stays on the task and doesn't go into interpersonal and various other things that people came up with. So respect is great, and what does that really look like?

Speaker 2:

That's right. It's really operationalizing it.

Speaker 1:

Yes, yes, so when it comes up, I can see. Well, wait a minute. I thought let's take a pause here. One of the things that we agreed to was that we were not going to talk over each other and look at this, I'm just as much doing it as you are, but we're all talking over each other. Let's go back to our ground rules and let's stop doing that. We begin to go back to what supports trust, what supports being in conflict and making it a productive experience as opposed to a destructive experience.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think even when a team has been intentional about designing that, they still may get into a situation that becomes overly spicy and crunchy, so maybe they are talking over each other. It's an opportunity to A call that time out again. I see that we're all really dug in. Maybe the jalapeno is a little bit too spicy right now. So why don't we do a 10 minute break? Or can we pause this conversation and come back tomorrow morning or whatever the timeline looks like? I think the other thing that I see often is that the team has lost sight or the shared care has become muddied, and so that can be another anchor to bring the team back together. So what is it that we actually all care about? What is the outcome we're all committed to and how are we moving towards that together, and is this helping us get there? And so really focusing and re reminding and restating what is the shared care or the shared outcome that we're all working towards. It feels like a pulling together versus pulling in separate directions.

Speaker 1:

Yes, that's absolutely invaluable in terms of, again, connection to the shared care, connection to each other, connection to the team as a whole and trust in all of those. I'm feeling like we've covered a lot of what this is about here how to be in conflict and, at the same time, maintain trust and relationship, ways that we can do that, things that can get in the way of that. A couple of things that I think are staying with me is having the conversation about how we're going to disagree before we're actually in a disagreement, and actually writing it down somewhere so that everybody and we all agree this is what we're going to do, so that when we're right in the heat of it and somebody's slipping off in the direction of being disrespectful or whatever it is or at least I'm feeling like they're there I'm feeling like there's distrust in the room, there's whatever I can go back and say. I think this is something that is, we're not really following our guidelines here for how to have conversation. We take a pause and just check in. It may be me, but I want to take a pause and check in.

Speaker 1:

So I think that's really valuable for individuals in their relationships with each other in the workspace and I don't know. I mean couples who live with each other, parents and children, all kinds of places where we can have disagreements. I always remember when my son was a certain age and my wife and I would disagree with him about something and he'd say, well, don't you trust me. So it's in all places in our lives. Doing that is really supportive of being able to be in conflict, get through the conflict, get to a place that's bigger than where we started and that our relationship is at least as strong, if not stronger, than where we started.

Speaker 2:

Beautifully said. I love that. Well, thank you for another delightful conversation. I think one of these episodes we will need to record it and let people see our epic, epic moves that we make behind the scenes that they never get to see. It'll be like a whole new level of listening to the podcast, seeing our animation.

Speaker 1:

Or I could describe what you're doing. You could describe what I'm doing.

Speaker 2:

Our audience would get some whole new vocabulary from me. Well, thank you again for a delightful conversation and thank you, illa. On behalf of both Charles and myself, we want to say a big thank you to our producer and sound editor, chad Penner. Hilary Rideout of Inside Out Branding, who does our promotion, our amazing graphics and marketing press, and our theme music was composed by Jonas Smith. If you have any questions or comments for us about the podcast, if you have a trust-related situation that you'd like us to take up in one of our episodes, we'd love to hear from you at trustatrustonpurposeorg.

Speaker 1:

And we'd also like to thank you, our listeners. Take care and keep building trust on purpose Until next time.

Speaker 2:

Until next time.

Disagreement and Trust
Navigating Spicy and Crunchy Conversations
Thanking Contributors and Listeners