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What's a Trust Fall?

joy at work virtual teams Apr 03, 2022

Written by Roxanne Brown

What's a Trust Fall? Or rather, what’s the point of it? The trust fall is an exercise meant to increase confidence between people: “I can rely on you for my safety and success when I’m at risk personally. And you can rely on me in the same way.” The hazards of the exercise are well documented (endlessly on YouTube) and there are lots of people who say it doesn’t work. Still, it’s useful here in the virtual world to ask how the intention can be achieved. We have some ideas.

First some basics. 

You can grow confidence in each other by…

Getting to know each other. [inside voice] “We each know something about what matters to the other person and that ‘knowing’ comes from communication beyond what’s said.”

Finding things in common. [inside voice]: “We share some things in common personally. As a result, we each assume the other person can understand how those things could influence a person's perspective without having to explain it."

Creating shared experiences that have meaning. [inside voice]: “We’ve had shared experiences that are meaningful to us. We can relate to each other because of that meaning.”

Seeing each other’s skills in action. [inside voice]: “We’ve seen each other’s work or we’ve seen each other’s skills in action and have respect for each other as a result.”

Being predictable, consistent, and reliable with each other. [inside voice]: “We know how to interpret each other’s behavior based on demonstrated patterns and how the patterns match what we each otherwise communicate about ourselves.”

With this in mind, here are a few ideas you can do yourself to cultivate confidence…

  1. Try connecting: (from Apollo Technical) “Schedule a virtual commute. According to the New York Times, the hardest part of working from home is the loneliness and lack of social interaction. Taking your regular commute time to check in with co-workers can help support social interaction and focus your brain on the day’s work.” 
  2. Help people get to know you: At the end of the day, post an image on Slack that says how the day went for you and another image for how you hope tomorrow goes. For example, a barometer for how your day went could be the messiness of your workspace or the number of windows you have open. Invite others to share but don’t worry too much if they don’t.
  3. Find ways to showcase others in action: Ask a colleague if they would teach you and your team how to do something that’s in their domain of expertise. Even if your team doesn't use the skill in their role, it can be eye-opening to see the process the colleague uses which can help the team see their own work in a larger context.
  4. Anticipate what colleagues need and share in advance: Several days before the deadline, use a free app like VideoAsk to give a colleague a video update on work they're waiting on from you. It’s more personal and conveys much more than text alone.

The difference-maker: One of the best things you can do to take the initiative to build trust is by creating your intention as a colleague. Ask yourself:

“If I had my wish, what would I want my colleagues to feel and know about working with me and what would I want them to do as a result of that?”

Once you know this, it can be your guide for your interactions with others. Having an intention shifts things.

A few final thought-starters for you about trust…

So what does this all tell you? Maybe this gives you some ideas for how you can increase trust in your virtual workplace. Maybe this helps you see the good things already present in your relationships and your team culture! When you build trusting relationships over time that leads to an emotional connection to each other, the work you do, and what you achieve together. And if you can make that kind of contribution through your work, that's clearly Joy at Work.