Building trusting environments to disagree more at work

Trust is one of those small words which represents so much more than is often understood. There are so many variables of what people ‘trust’ each other to do or not do based on different opinions, perceptions and scenarios.   

As mentioned in my earlier blog   trust is a two-way process between two or more people. Trust involves each person to be prepared to be vulnerable and their propensity to risk-taking.

‘I trust you ….’

‘I feel trusted…’


Building a social interaction of integrity and kindness (affective trust) helps move beyond the task driven trust of an individual’s competence to do the task to the level expected. Affective trust opens up a new realm where opinions are listened to, discussed and valued. Feedback on suggestions, ideas and performance is offered openly and with honesty, and received openly and respected. After all, it is someone’s view point. Being able to reflect on another person’s perspective can be a valuable source of information and an opportunity either for the individual or the organisation to learn and grow. The feedback is someone’s perception or assumption based on the experience, knowledge and information they have access to.


When affective trust exists, relationships can move to having more candid debate, disagreements and conflicting views with less worry or concern of upsetting or offending each other. The disagreement is in service of opportunity, it is shared with integrity and a purposeful intent.


A team or work environment where everyone’s views, ideas, questions are listened to enables the team or organisation to be more open to change and creativity leading to adaptability. Offering opinions or disagreeing with those views around us without fear of reprisal or feeling like you’ve asked the stupid question can lead to more interesting and respected conversations. Meetings become a valuable resource rather than a task generated agenda where people don’t really contribute and feel they are wasting valuable time.


Creating an environment where focussing on real live concerns, and everyone discusses, shares their thoughts and solutions can lead to better outcomes. After all, how many people really have all the answers themselves? When the question posed is;


‘what would be a better approach?’

‘what else could be considered?’


and everyone genuinely shares their thoughts, concerns, solutions from their perspective to a problem or topic can lead to thought provoking conversations.


Disagreement and candid debate can feel uncomfortable, especially for those in the team who want everyone to be happy. The need to please everyone. In this scenario, it is important for the leader to create a space where this is safety for everyone to contribute. There is psychological safety. When this happens disagreement or challenge of individuals opinions becomes acceptable in a non-personal approach. This can support those less confident to share or disagree to be brave and begin to contribute. Tiny steps at first.


Team coaching is an opportunity to support both the leader and the team to develop affective trust, conflicting conversations within a safe environment and build towards high performance as a team. For more information about the process of team coaching



For more information on how Almach Leadership can help you develop better team performance please contact

 Feb 2, 2018