Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Building Relationships in Teams: Self-Disclosure and Trust

When people work in teams, they build relationships. Strong relationships allow for more productive and meaningful teamwork and collaboration. This cycle highlights the importance of relationships in teamwork. Relationships develop through working in teams and relationships enable individuals to work together in meaningful ways.
Given the importance of building strong relationships, it is essential to consider what skills and behaviors lead to the creation of a strong and fulfilling relationships. By assisting children in developing these skills and behaviors, you are giving them tools to build a successful future that inevitably will require—and be enriched by—creating relationships and working with others. 
Self-disclosure is an act of revealing your thoughts and perspective about a present situation, or other relevant and meaningful information, to another person. Sharing personal thoughts is crucial when building relationships in teams. Self-disclosure allows team members to get to know one another better, identify common goals and overlapping values and, once common goals have been identified, allows you to work together toward accomplishing these goals. Just as strong relationships and teams are built through appropriate self-disclosure, the lack of self-disclosure between team members can result in the deterioration of relationships and influence the strength of a team. If an individual keeps quiet about his/her needs, desires and goals, other team members are likely to do the same; people in relationships tend to match the amount of disclosure coming from others. A breakdown in communication can lead to a team where members are not working together or recognizing and valuing one another’s needs and desires.
It is well known that trust is the foundation for building and maintaining meaningful, productive relationships. This is certainly true of building relationships within a team, and when trust is established, team members are far more likely to take risks, communicate important information, and share personal thoughts and feelings through self-disclosure. Similar to the concept of self-disclosure, levels of trust are matched in relationships, and if one individual takes a risk and trusts others in the group, other team members are more likely to do the same. Feeling as though someone else trusts you makes it easier for you to trust that person in return. Johnson (2014) offers helpful hints about trust, and there are four that I believe are extremely helpful to remember when developing relationships within teams:
1.      Trust is hard to build and easy to destroy: building a high level of trust within relationships can take a long time, and one act of disloyalty can eliminate trust in a relationship.
2.      The key to building and maintaining trust is being trustworthy: as Johnson (2014) says, “when you want to increase trust, increase your trustworthiness” (p. 99).
3.      Trust needs to be appropriate: always trusting and never trusting is inappropriate. Evaluate the situation and trust yourself in knowing when it is important to extend trust to others.
4.      Cooperation increases trust; competition decreases trust: generally, trust develops between individuals who are working with one another rather than against one another.

Self-disclosure and trust are necessary in building relationships in many different contexts, including sports teams, the work environment, friend groups, and families. If adults can model these skills and behaviors, not only will the adults have more fulfilling and meaningful relationships, they will begin to teach their children how to build fulfilling and meaningful relationships in all areas of life.

Johnson, D. W. (2014). Reaching out: Interpersonal effectiveness and self-actualization (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Picture taken from Google Images:

Written by Shea Wood.

Dynamix: Team-building for Kids and Teens, since 2002.

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