10 Ways to Build Vulnerability Trust

Hunter educators met in Montana to make some decisions about policy

By Nedra Chandler, approximately 3 minute read

I facilitated a meeting last week that spanned 3 days and it was full of leaders of separate-but-related organizations who were willing and then not so willing and then willing again to be vulnerable with one another.

The group began by telling each other personal stories of why they entered public service and what keeps them in it now. What they shared was vulnerable and vivid. The time they spent sharing helped give them some more currency with each other and a some extra resilience they needed with each other during the next few days.

In another meeting, the one pictured above, the group had a full day. There was high emotion and conflict going in, and more working trust and respect going out.

Why? Partly because participants took the risks of expressing what they felt and they also listened and clarified things that had been poorly understood in the months leading up to the meeting.

The high points for me as a full-time process maven are when participants drop their guard enough to let others see who they are and what they care about.

That’s when you can begin to experience their true contributions. You can spot the qualities and presence they bring and build on those.

In particular, I notice more and more often that meetings that are the most lively and useful are those where people choose to behave in genuine ways that build trust.

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”

― Brené BrownDaring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

A year ago I wrote about my friend Faith Ralston’s card game designed to help groups identify what it takes to operationalize trust.

Ever wonder how to make a squishy thing like trust actionable? See photos of Faith’s card deck with 25 doable ways to build trust here.Each card has a behavior on it.

I just took another look at those cards and picked 10 of 25 that are, at root, about being willing to be vulnerable. They are:

1.   Show you care

2.   Surface concerns

3.   Accept personal responsibility

4.   Address tough issues

5.   Readily share information

6.   Rebuild damaged relationships

7.   Learn from mistakes

8.   Be open to new ideas

9.   Listen well

10. Seek to understand

Do you practice these 10 vulnerable behaviors in your life? Why? How? How often? What happens?

If you are reading this you are probably already routinely choosing to behave in these trust-building ways. Yet, I like how these beliefs and behaviors are spelled out so practically between Faith Ralston’s cards and Patrick Lencioni’s book. For example, the notion of vulnerability trust is central in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (2012).

Lenioni’s model below shows “vulnerability trust” big and on the ground floor of the triangle, holding up the rest. The placement of trust as the foundation is more than an ivory tower theory. This explains how things go when a group gets together.

Like me, you may enjoy flipping the “lack of” and “avoidance of” language in the model above and use the triangle below for more of an invitation to “try more of this and see how it goes…”

I wonder if you’ll go have some fun with this and bust a vulnerable move today? I’d love to get a note or comment from you on what you notice when you do.

A bit about me: I work primarily with government clients and their partners as a professional coach or third party facilitator in navigating conflict, change and learning opportunities of all kinds. If you get curious about other Triangles you can use in your day-to-day work see the Triangle of Satisfaction or the Triangle of Motivation. Find me and more of my long-time work mates at http://www.triangleassociates.com

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