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workplace trust

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Workplace Trust

Workplace trust can ebb and flow like an ocean tide depending on what we say and how we say it. Little things can mean a lot, especially when it comes from someone in a position of authority. Getting it right means sharpening your soft skills and today’s guest, Anne Baum is going to share some soft skill secrets to help you build workplace trust more consistently.

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What You’ll Discover About Workplace Trust (highlights & transcript):

Small Mistakes Big Consequences* How small mistakes impact workplace trust [01:46]

* How managing perceptions well improves workplace trust [03:01]

* The self-imposed leadership barriers to building more workplace trust [04:47]

* Essential Soft Skills for Improving Workplace Trust [06:44]

* How The Transmitter and Overconfident Overachiever Detract From Workplace Trust [12:17]

* How to Improve the Soft Skills Necessary to Build More Workplace Trust [18:12]

* And MUCH more.

Hanna Hasl-Kelchner: [00:00:00] Workplace trust can ebb and flow like an ocean tide, depending on what we say and how we say it. Little things can mean a lot, especially when it comes from someone in a position of authority. Getting it right means sharpening your soft skills. And today’s guest, Ann Baum, is going to share some soft skills secrets to help you build workplace trust more consistently.


Announcer: [00:00:24] This is Business Confidential Now with Hanna Hasl-Kelchner helping you see business issues hiding in plain view that matters to your bottom line.


Hanna: [00:00:36] Welcome to Business Confidential Now, I’m your host, Hanna Hasl-Kelchner, and today’s special guest is Anne Baum, she’s the author of Small Mistakes Big Consequences: Develop Your Soft Skills to Help You Succeed.


Hanna: [00:00:50] She is the Lehigh Valley Executive and Vice President, Distribution Channels and Labor Relations, for Capital Blue Cross. Since joining the company in January of 2010, Ms. Baum’s has been involved in strategic planning and other senior level functions, as well as designing and leading leadership development programs through her own company, Vision Accomplished and as a member of numerous boards and executive committees.


Hanna: [00:01:16] Her formal education includes a B.S. in biology from the University of Illinois, a master’s in health systems management from Rush University, and the credential I find most fascinating a certification from the Protocol School of Washington as a protocol and etiquette consultant. Here’s Small Mistakes, Big Consequences author Ann Baum welcome to the show.


Anne Baum: [00:01:42] We’ll thank you for having me, Hanna, I am looking forward to talking with you.


How Small Mistakes Impact Workplace Trust


Hanna: [00:01:46] Yes, yes. Likewise, because I think that workplace trust is such a fascinating topic and I love the title of your book, Small Mistakes, Big Consequences. In your experience, why is it that small mistakes have such big consequences?


Anne: [00:02:04] I think so much of what people do in their decision-making in the workplace is based upon their assumptions or their perceptions of others. And if we’re not careful in how we’re presenting ourselves, we often find others misinterpreting our intent or our reasons or even impacting trust in a negative manner. By paying attention to our behavior and really avoiding these small mistakes it really starts to build the solid, trusting relationship between yourself and your team numbers. And that’s where you really start to roll and get things done more quickly, more efficiently and really better.


How Managing Perceptions Improves Workplace Trust


Hanna: [00:03:01] I can see how that would definitely make a difference. But let’s get down to some nitty gritty. What do you think is the key to being perceived as sincere and trustworthy?


Anne: [00:03:12] Well, the key to being perceived as sincere and trustworthy is actually being sincere and trustworthy. If you say one thing and do another or are politically correct in how you deliver a message or you hide information from your team members thinking they’re not worthy of it, or thinking they won’t wonder what’s going on over time, people just won’t trust you.


Anne: [00:03:46] When you’re honest and open with your team members about the good and the bad, when you don’t mince words and pretend everything’s OK, when it’s really not, and when you offer trust to your team members and allow them to fail and make mistakes and learn from those mistakes, that’s when you start to really build that solid team and build that trustworthy nature from your team members.


Hanna: [00:04:18] Why is it so hard? I mean, you know, some people in senior leadership positions  particularly, there seems to be this wall up at times, this façade, this image that they try to maintain and super trustworthiness is not necessarily part of that that script. Why is it so hard for them to open up and allow us to see some of the warts?


Self-imposed Leadership Barriers to Building More Workplace Trust


Anne: [00:04:47] It really depends on the leader and some of the very best leaders with whom I’ve had the opportunity to work are those that are willing to be humble and vulnerable and aren’t afraid of it. I think many people are afraid of the criticism that comes along with being your true self and being honest and showing that you can make mistakes. But whenever you do that, it backfires. And when you are caught in a lie or a half truth or just not being authentic as a senior leader, people hold it against you even more so than they do with their peers.


Anne: [00:05:42] And that’s because when you’re in a senior leadership role, people in the organization put you on a pedestal and they think (1) that you know, everything that’s going on in the company all the time and (2) that you are completely and totally aware of what they are doing and every other person is doing in the company. And so when you don’t act on things or you are not open and honest about a situation, they wonder why you don’t know and it eats away at their trust in you.


Anne: [00:06:19] And that’s why I recommend that people be in senior leadership roles even over the top in your honesty and your transparency, because people are already assuming that you are doing so. And when they catch you not doing it, it just crushes them. It takes away from their trust, not only you, but also in the company as a whole.


Essential Soft Skills for Improving Workplace Trust


Hanna: [00:06:44] I can see how that would happen. And that’s definitely not what anybody wants. It’d be tremendous damage to the organization, to the reputation and like you said, to trust. If somebody wanted to improve their soft skills because they, like you said at the beginning there, really they don’t understand how they’re being perceived, you know, they think they’re being open and honest, but their team isn’t interpreting it that way. What types of soft skills, in your experience, should they be focusing on? What are the top ones that people typically miss out on?


Anne: [00:07:24] One of the first ones that I recommend to anyone in a leadership role is to be a great listener, not only the transmitter that’s constantly talking at people and telling them what they need to do and dictating what’s happening next. But actually stop and listen to the members of your team and really strive to understand what it is that they bring to the table.


Anne: [00:07:59] You’ve hired good people 99.9% of the time. Listen to them. Learn from them. And then when you bond with your people in that way, not only do you listen to them, but then you either empower them to take action or you take action on their behalf. That really begins to build that trust. And that only happens when you deliver results.


Anne: [00:08:26] It doesn’t happen if you have nice thoughts about maybe helping them or you pretend to listen, but then do whatever you want to do anyway and don’t actually act on what your team members tell you. It’s very important that you take that time to listen to them and then work with them to achieve results and solutions as opposed to dictating to them or just doing things the way you think is the right way to do it.


Hanna: [00:08:58] That’s really engaging your team more through the through conversation. And the big part being listening, if I understand you correctly.


Anne: [00:09:07] Exactly. So listening is the first huge skill and then acting on what you learn. And then I think a second really important skill that your actions indicate, but ultimately results in your team trusting you is empowering them to go out and do things that they know are the right thing to do. When you empower your team and you put your trust in them, not only do they take accountability for what it is that they’re trying to deliver. But they also learn and grow and innovate. When you pretend to empower people, and the first time they make a mistake and they absolutely will make a mistake, and the first time you make a mistake, you pull it back; empowerment and trust are dead in your organization.


Anne: [00:10:04] So when you empower people, you have to trust them. And when they make a mistake, you can’t pull the project away. It’s important that you work with them to learn from that mistake and make a new decision. You make the wrong decision. The next thing you do is learn from it and make another decision. And when you as a leader, help people learn in that manner, not only does it make them into leaders and make your company stronger, but that ultimately results in that bigger trust within your organization.



Hanna: [00:10:39] That’s interesting. Now, the title of your book, Small Mistakes, Big Consequences. Are there any small mistakes that somebody can’t recover from?


Anne: [00:10:52] I’m an optimist, so I would like to think that, all of these small mistakes, there’s an opportunity for redemption. That being said, it depends on the audience with whom you make that small mistake. The viewer can perceive you as completely dishonest and a perpetual liar, and they don’t trust you at all. That’s really difficult to recover from.


Anne: [00:11:25] And part of the reason. I decided to write the book and share this information is to help people avoid that career ending or relationship, any mistake that ends people’s trust with them or ends their ability to communicate with them. So I would like to say you can always try and recover, but better not to make the mistake in the first place. And then you don’t have to worry about recovery.


Hanna: [00:11:56] Yeah, but we’re only human. You know, mistakes happen, though, so . . .


Anne: [00:12:02] and all of the mistakes that are in the book are either mistakes that I’ve made or I’ve experienced with other people. So everybody makes mistakes. And as long as we learn from them, it’s OK. It’s the only way we learn anyway.


How The Transmitter and Overconfident Overachiever Detract From Workplace Trust


Hanna: [00:12:17] Yeah, absolutely. Can you give us a few examples of common mistakes so that at least we could learn from someone else’s mistakes, try not to make it?


Anne: [00:12:27] Of course, one of the first ones in the book is we give each of them a character name and the first one is The Transmitter and The Transmitter is somebody who is always on transmit. All they do is talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. They don’t pause to take a breath and they never listen to the other people. And the problem with being The Transmitter is (1) it’s a turnoff to other people. It makes them feel unimportant and they often stop listening to you.


Anne: [00:13:10] The second and more important piece of it is when you’re not stopping to listen, you’re missing the opportunity to learn from other people. And I find that I learn so much more when I’m quiet and listen to what others have to say than when I’m talking over them and telling them what I think. It’s just is so much more valuable when you take the time to listen to. So The Transmitter’s the first one.


Anne: [00:13:44] Another one that comes to mind is the person, and this is from our second book, our interview book, and this is that Overconfident Overachiever. And this is the person that is constantly bragging and telling you how great they are and how wonderful they are and how they’ll just fix your organization and make it better. And unfortunately, humbleness is so much better than being a bragger. You might be the best person at what you do to demonstrate that through the results you deliver the team building you pursue, and that by telling people how great you are, show them how great you are. That makes a huge difference with people. And back to our original premise for today that builds trust as well.


Future Small Mistakes, Big Consequences Books


Hanna: [00:14:39] Very good. So you mentioned the second book in the series. So you’re doing Small Mistakes, Big Consequences, we have the first one, develop your soft skills to help you succeed, and the other one is about interviewing?


Anne: [00:14:55] Yes, the second book in the series came out September 1st, and it is Small Mistakes, Big Consequences for Interviews, and it is designed to help people through the interview process, but also designed to guide the interviewer through evaluating whether or not a mistake that an interviewee is making is really a deal killer.


Anne: [00:15:25] I think often perception obviously is reality to the person doing the perceiving. So when an interviewer is perceiving that small mistake I was striving to help them figure out which ones were really bad ones and which ones were things that you could coach someone to overcome so that they don’t miss out on a good candidate simply because they did make one of those small mistakes in the process.


Hanna: [00:15:58] How many more of these types of books are you going to create?


Anne: [00:16:02] Well, the goal is, as each of these interesting situations present themselves, we’re planning to write a whole series of them. The next one is very timely and it is Small Mistakes, Big Consequences for Videoconferencing and Conference Calls. And ironically, it was already in the works before the pandemic. But now, more than ever, it is a valuable piece of information and set of information for people going forward. And we’ll just keep doing it as situations present themselves so that people have the opportunity to learn in an easy to read, tongue in cheek, a little bit funny manner, how to be the best that they can be and succeed and not let assumption and perception get in your way.


Hanna: [00:16:58] Very good. Because, yes, the video conferencing that’s going to be here to stay regardless of how things eventually shake out with the pandemic, which I’m sure they will, but nobody really has the crystal ball on what that timeline is going to look like. So, yes, definitely video conferencing. It would be helpful because we’re trying to put our best foot forward, no question about it. And when you’re looking at a small screen, those small mistakes can suddenly appear much bigger because that’s all you have to look at.


Anne: [00:17:31] Yes, I saw a funny one the other day and I don’t know who the person was, but they were doing a video conference and back over their shoulder there was somebody in their house, in the shower and. . .


Hanna: [00:17:46] Oh, no. Oh, my goodness. . .


Anne: [00:17:51] You could see the . .  So you couldn’t see the full picture, but you could see that somebody was in the shower showering . . . The silhouette. So just these little things taking the time to check what’s behind you. You really can make a difference in how somebody perceives and receives your message


How to Improve the Soft Skills Necessary to Build Workplace Trust


Hanna: [00:18:12] And definitely talk about unintended consequences. So let’s come back to your first book here, the Small Mistakes, Big Consequences: Develop Soft Skills to Help You Succeed. What’s a good way for somebody to develop their soft skills, their listening skills? Because, you know, there’s all kinds of courses on speaking and public speaking and how to move your hands, this, that, and the other. But I don’t remember too many listening skill courses. Help me out.


Anne: [00:18:41] In order to build your soft skills and especially your listening skills. The first and the easiest thing is to be quiet as a mouse and actually concentrate on listening to the other person. So often we are listening with the intent to answer, and instead of actually hearing and learning from what the other person is saying, we’re already jumping ahead to what it is that we intend to say in response to what that person has to say. And very often the response is being crafted before we even have heard the full message that the other person is delivering. I think it’s important to really concentrate on hearing and learning from the other person and actually making that mindful decision to do so.


Anne: [00:19:50] A few other tips that help with it are actually looking the person in the eye. And showing them the respect that you are truly paying attention to them. And especially when we’re on video conferences or in a room where you can have lots of multitasking going on, like checking your phone or writing notes of your to do list for today, make that extra effort to be present in the moment. Give that other person the courtesy of your full attention.


Anne: [00:20:28] We think we can multitask, but when we step back from that, it’s really not true. You recognize that unless you’re giving somebody your full attention and you’re present in that moment, you missing things. And taking the time to really give them that courtesy, not only is respectful of them, but you also gain more from that interaction because it allows for you to truly concentrate on what that other person is saying and clarify their understanding of their message. So they make sure you actually get it and understand it.


The Big Take-Away from Small Mistakes, Big Consequences to Develop Your Soft Skills to Help You Succeed


Hanna: [00:21:07] Sure, by follow up questions. Absolutely. One more question. So one more question in the Small Mistakes, Big Consequences to Develop Your Soft Skills to Help You Succeed book, your first one in the series, what would you want a reader to have their big take away from reading that book? Because I understand the chapters are crafted to talk about, you know, like The Transmitter and, you know, these characters that have been created from one chapter to go to the next, but what would you say the big takeaway is from your book?


Anne: [00:21:45] There are really two big takeaways from the book. The first is pay attention to not just the words you’re using, but how you are delivering your messages. What are the behaviors that you are presenting to others from which they will draw a perception. So often we plan our presentation and our calculations and the words that we’re going to use, and we forget about all of the things related to our body language and our facial expressions and even the way we dress. And those are the things from which people draw their initial impression. And if that initial impression is negative, it’s a long way to go to get back up to a positive first impression. So pay attention to your behavior and deliver that great first impression.


Anne: [00:22:43] The second piece I’d like people to take away from the book is when somebody is delivering a poor impression to you, give them a break. And think through how do you manage that? Don’t let some of these behaviors be that complete turnoff, because naturally your gut feeling will be to react negatively to these behaviors. But if you learn some of the reasons why the behaviors are demonstrated, it can help you better interact with others and have a more productive relationship.


Anne: [00:23:23] And certainly when you’re observing these behaviors and members of your own team, you can coach them around it. And it’s really important to do so, so that they don’t get in. . . if they’re bothering you, they’re going to bother your customers and your colleagues, to coach people, teach them these things. That might be a hard conversation, but it’s well worth it. You know, improve the person as well as your team.


Hanna: [00:23:49] And the relationship. Definitely. So great advice. I definitely appreciate it. If you’d like to contact and learn more about workplace trust in her book, Small Mistakes, Big Consequences, you can find that information in the show notes at


Hanna: [00:24:06] And if you found it helpful, be sure to tell a friend and leave a positive review on your podcast app or at Confidential Now.


Hanna: [00:24:18] Yes, you’ve been listening to Business Confidential Now with Hanna Hasl-Kelchner.


Hanna: [00:24:22] Hope you have a great day and an even better tomorrow. Thank you.

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Guest: Anne Baum

Anne BaumAnne Baum is the author of Small Mistakes, Big Consequences: Develop Your Soft Skills to Help You Succeed.

She is also the Lehigh Valley executive and vice president, distribution channels & labor relations for Capital BlueCross. Since joining the company in January 2010, Anne has been involved with strategic planning and other senior level functions as well as designing and leading leadership development programs through her own company Vision Accomplished. 

Anne participates on numerous boards and executive committees and her formal education includes a BS in Biology from the University of Illinois, a Masters in Health Systems Management from Rush University, plus she has a certification from the Protocol School of Washington as a protocol and etiquette consultant.  

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