A Shift In Trust

woman wearing grey long sleeved top photography

The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them. – Ernest Hemingway

Gosh, that sounds so simple…

The other day I was processing challenges during Covid, with an administrator and she brought up trust.

Trust is always hard to establish.

However, with distance learning, individuals choices regarding health precautions, and limited availability to use evidence to validate our assumptions (positive or negative), it’s more challenging to establish trust than in the past.

Harder to establish, yet, more important than ever.

We are operating in a time that requires making decisions based on our levels of trust in systems, structures, and individuals. Trusting our schools to take every precaution necessary to ensure our students have limited exposure. Trusting our families to be open and honest about their exposures. Trusting our students to sit at the screen when all we see is a blacked-out box. Trusting our communities to enforce best practices regarding social distancing. Trusting that our teachers are receiving the support they need to best support their students…the list is never-ending…

This is emotionally taxing.

We know from lived experiences that it takes time to establish trust. While some feel like they have more time than ever on their hands, others are feeling the complete opposite.

So, what can we do?

Don’t forget the importance of relationship building and human connections. We need this.

Invest in establishing trust and adapting systems and structures. Remember Voltaire’s aphorism, don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good...take action now.

Sometimes the most important conversations are the most difficult to engage in. – Jeanne Phillips

Rather than waiting to ensure trust is established, I recommend taking action now. Douglas Stone, author of Difficult Conversations: How To Discuss What Matters Most, said “Often we go through an entire conversation– or indeed an entire relationship– without ever realizing that each of us is paying attention to different things, that our views are based on different information.”

Gain Clarity

Start by being open and honest. If you’re concerned, questioning, or want to align expectations do it.

Unfortunately, we have to have these conversations, but I value you/our relationship enough to have them…I’d like to discuss…

Explain the why

I want to talk about X. This is important to me/our students/teachers/you because…

Articulate the impact

Doing X is concerning/meaningful because…

Validate (this doesn’t mean you have to agree)

I get…It must be…

Give thanks

Unfortunately, we are living in a time where we find ourselves having conversations around X. I appreciate it.

In closing, I reminded the administrator that lack of clarity often creates chaos and frustration. These conversations may or may not change one’s actions, however, they provide you with additional information to better assess your level of trust.

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