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3 Strategies for Building Trust

(1) Foster rapport between participants

What is rapport? Rapport, or a positive personal connection between people which is the essential ingredient to creates trust.

In order to build rapport:

  • Schedule initial meetings in person, if possible. Face-to-face encounters help people get to know each other’s communication styles and backgrounds, and forge working and social relationships. If an in-person meeting isn’t possible, take advantage of technology: a blend of screen-sharing programs, instant messaging, and phone conferencing can go a long way toward team building. Although, some face to face time would go a long way to build better rapport.
  • Create an online roster for participants.Include a photo and brief paragraph about each person’s background, interests, and skills, along with their contact information. This information will give participants common ground when they are communicating virtually.
  • Foster cultural understanding.Acknowledge cultural differences that are creating tensions or misunderstandings. For instance, some participants in a global collaboration may send short emails that immediately address the task at hand. Others may view this as rude. Help people adjust to differences; for example, ask people who usually talk about business right away to use a few pleasantries at the beginning of their emails.

(2) Establish shared goals

When participants in a global collaboration establish shared goals and document their progress, they gain confidence in one another’s reliability, a key element of trust.

In order to make this happen:

  • Agree on shared goals. Together with the other participants in your collaboration, agree on what you’re trying to achieve and how you’ll all work toward those goals. Alignment and clarity on these matters make it easier for people to follow through on commitments, which further engenders trust.
  • Document project actions and status.Consider using a Web-based program to enable participants to document actions they’ve taken during the collaboration, lessons learned, and explanations for unexpected situations. For example, “We were short-staffed this week and will add another day to finish the prototype.” When people see evidence that everyone is doing his or her job, trust increases. This will also ensure transparency between all parties.
  • Provide ongoing feedback.Through emails, phone calls, and other communication, keep collaborators informed about what is going well and what is not. Providing team members with frequent feedback builds trust and helps hold everyone accountable to shared goals. However, this feedback must be done in a correct way and framed accordingly to ensure morale is not affected.

(3) Showcase participants’ competence

For a collaboration to work, team members must have confidence in their teammates. Collaborators want to know that other participants have the competencies and skills needed to be successful. Support your team by helping members understand each other’s strengths. By showcasing each collaborator’s achievements and expertise, you’ll help participants gain confidence in one another’s ability to get the job done.



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