Client meetings are a great opportunity to build trust with many clients at once. Today’s blog is the third in a four-pack that focuses on how to build trust with your clients when you morph from Consultant to Facilitator. (Click here to read the first article in the series, Building Group Trust: The Credible Facilitator and click here to read the second article in the series, Building Group Trust: The Reliable Facilitator). We’ll use the components of the Trust Equation as our framework.
Intimacy exists in the domain of emotions and emotional connectedness. The Connected Facilitator visibly demonstrates both empathy and discretion, which makes it possible for the group to flourish in a comfortable and safe working environment.
Here are 10 tips for establishing yourself as a Connected Facilitator:
1. Be rigorous about maintaining confidentiality when you collect and report group data (e.g., surveys or interviews)
2. Create a meeting design that supports discussion and disclosure (e.g., pairs sharing first before a whole group discussion) – especially around sensitive topics
3. Create a physical meeting space that is welcoming and orderly
4. Share something (appropriately) personal with the group; lead by example
5. Pay special attention to member participation throughout the meeting; use techniques like one-word check-ins and round robin reporting so all voices are heard
6. Use easel charts, white boards, and other visible recording devices to capture group input and actions
7. Use participants’ language when creating a group record – even if you think it’s incorrect (grammatically or otherwise)
8. Acknowledge uncomfortable situations (e.g., “Wow, I notice the room got really quiet all of a sudden.”)
9. Demonstrate empathy; repeat back/summarize not only the content of what group members are expressing, but the emotion behind it
10. Use “process checks” periodically; step away from the content of the meeting to get feedback on participants’ overall experience of it.
Clients who experience an emotional connection with you have a sense of security, comfort, and ease in your presence. As a result, they’ll trust your leadership of the group, which means they will be more likely to express themselves and share information with you and with each other.
Unfortunately, emotional connectedness, or intimacy, is necessary and not sufficient for building trust. Last up: The Service-Oriented Facilitator.