Building Trust: Start with a Contagion for Good

A pie chart breaking down what people are really thinking during a zoom call

Image Source:                                                                                      Artist: Sarah Woodard

Hey Toronto, we need a zoomologist, fast!

You just finished your last Zoom call for the day. Your computer is resting on your first-year biology texts and your stand-up desk has been artfully positioned so that you don’t look like Casper the friendly ghost. Half the time was spent either repeating or asking others to repeat thoughts that became frozen in the air. You’ve gone through Sarah Woodard’s eight zoom awakenings and committed to yourself, “Tomorrow’s Zooms will be better!” Building trust through positive communication is always a key leadership competency but now more important than ever.

These days the most important new hires could be “Zoomologists”.

As you reflect on the day, what kind of messages were shared with you and what did you share with others? I’m not referring to the everyday grind of updates and catch-ups. I’m talking about connecting on a higher plane.

In times like these, unfortunately, such moments are rare. You’ll recognize them because they make you pause. A feeling is triggered, a memory surfaces of a time when things were, well…normal. With this remembrance, you feel restored, ready to give again to the cause. Recognizing these special moments keeps us moving forward. If you are organizing Zoom or conference calls, finding ways to surface these positive feelings raises spirits, helping us cope as the days drag on.

A contagion for good

Here’s two examples that will lift spirts during your next virtual meeting.

It’s no surprise that caremongering had its start in Canada. What began as a countermovement to scaremongering, has blossomed into a community of over thirty thousand across the country. The mission is to show – not tell or report – how hope, backed up with concrete action, has the power to uplift.

Valentina Harper, an early adopter, said she wanted to create a contagion of kindness as a counterpoint to the difficult times we live in. The story of Vancouver’s Burrard Hotel is a good example of caremongering, where a hotel that likely would have been shuttered, is now a place of respite for health care workers.

Boy Scout Quinn Callender designs and fabricates "ear guards" for health care workers wearing masks.

Quinn Callender lives the Boy Scout motto: he’s prepared

Standing on “guard”

Or how about another great Canadian story, Quinn Callendar’s “ear guard” that prevents the elastic bands on masks from rubbing against the back of people’s ears? Since late March he and his volunteer group have produced over 5,000 straps using 3D printers. If your 3D printer is sitting idle, here’s the link to get you started.

Just an idea, but at a time when leaders have been urged to over-communicate, we need to ask not just what, but how we are communicating. There are clear choices to be made. We can either drone on about how hard everything is or we can, as my friend Joan Pajunen reminded me, create a new contagion of positive emotions; an essential to building trust. 

Building trust through positive communication

As you prepare for your Zoom call tomorrow, before you “launch video”, hit pause. Think about the people on the receiving end. Plan ahead and take a few moments to search for some examples that show a spirit of giving like the ones I’ve shared with you today. And let’s not forget, humour goes a long way these days too; check out The National Post’s Gary Clement for sage advice on how to give yourself a haircut during these COVID times. Communicating positive stories is one way you can raise the trust curve on your team.

Start your own micro movement of caremongering. The furrowed brows of colleagues will ease up, maybe a laugh line or two will show up. They will be your thanks.


A bit more to share:


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