This is part two of a three-part series.
How Can I Demonstrate Trust in a Virtual World?
We have been living and adapting to very few in-person meetings and interviews. Meeting online in a video room can be more productive for people who already know each other and have experience working together. However, for people unfamiliar to you, like a new hire or a candidate, how do you demonstrate that you and your team are trustworthy and know you can trust them?
Zoom/MSTeams/Google Meet are all two-dimensional platforms; people can seem flat when viewed on the screen. It is impossible to feel or experience them as you would if you were in person. The human ability to read people’s subtle cues/body language is lost – you cannot sense how people are reacting. It causes us all, as humans, to feel disconnected and emotionally flat. It also requires us to work harder to know who people really are, what we viscerally feel about them, and what they are like to be with. You don’t know if this strange new person will energize or deplete your team. The candidate also has no idea if you are a great leader, if your team is truly collaborative or combative, or if the subordinates are productive.
Here is what you can do to ensure you are building trust with the people unfamiliar with you and your team.
1. Be impeccable with your word.
My father told me that I was only as good as my word. Today, people are searching for reasons to build connections and relationships. They want to know you will follow through on what you commit to. If you say you will, you do.
In an interview, this can be conveyed as a story. For example, “our mission is to build a device with great predictive capabilities to “save millions of lives.” You explain exactly how your product does just that and the journey the team took to get from where you started to where you are today. Step by step, how you overcame challenges, how you encouraged the team when they needed it, and course-corrected when that was required. Share what you learned, how the team grew together, and how you reached your common goals. Consistency in doing what you say you will do will get you a long way in building trust.
Telling a true story compellingly conveys trust.
2. Be Prompt and Be Prepared
Trust is an emotion and a belief that others can rely on you. Demonstrating reliability by being on time is especially important now that you can no longer blame traffic! Being on time shows the other person that you value their time and can be counted on. This also applies to sticking to the time allotted for a meeting – do not go over.
Be prepared – do your homework on the candidate, read the CV, and have questions. Anticipate their questions about the company, the team, your vision, mission, and values. Being curious about them and showing you care about who the person is will impel you closer to someone and build strong bonds. That is what you are trying to accomplish.
3. Listen well
Please make sure you understand what the other person is saying. An easy way to do this is to paraphrase or summarize what you heard. This allows the other person to clarify and trust you to be a seeker of true information and not base conclusions on assumptions. You truly want to hear what the person has to say. This significantly reduces bias and builds trust.
You want to listen for genuine behavior for people who are whole and real are whom you want to add to your team. You must show them how whole and real you are and convey your vision for the future.
Be sure you extend the courtesy of listening to understand and show people you care. Speak and then listen, make room for the pause, and allow the other person to continue to speak, especially if they feel subordinate to you. Be gracious.
4. Be Welcoming
Treat your video conference guests like you would if you invited someone into your office or living room. The more comfortable and relaxed you make them feel, the more likely you will demonstrate your trustworthiness.
Be cognizant of what your viewers are seeing as your background. If you have a false background (or photo for a background), use a green screen, or you will become bits and bytes every time you move. This is very distracting, and you want someone to know you care enough about their experience to handle the little things.
Practice how you appear on video – be sure your appearance is not just a talking head with eyeballs but more of head and shoulders like you would if you were sitting in the same room.
You want someone to think you are trustworthy, credible, and capable of leading.
5. Limit Distractions
Be sure you dress your part. If your company dress code is corporate casual, wear that. If you are in an executive-level role and the attire is more formal, wear a jacket and tie. Remove distractions: Tell your family you have an important call to make, and unless it is a dire
emergency, you are not to be disturbed. The family is also not welcome to walk behind you waving peace signs either!
Could you put your pets in another room?
Your goal is to demonstrate that you are trustworthy, putting the other person at ease and instilling the belief ( in the candidate) that you and your current team can be counted on to do what they say they will do. You are conveying that we have relied on to measure trust without an in-person connection and the benefit of human-to-human contact.
I welcome your insight and experiences – please write your thoughts and send them to me firstname.lastname@example.org.