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A sense of belonging—in business

As a community developer, I’ve long known how important is to feel like we belong: that we have a tribe of likeminded individuals in our corner; that we have a “support network” upon which we can rely should things get tough.

When we feel like we belong, we are healthier and stronger, and lead longer lives.

Of course, this applies in our daily lives at home. But how much does this sense of belonging impact us when it comes to business?

If you’ve been reading my blog posts of late, you’ll know that I very much am an advocate of the need to build a strong, resilient business community of likeminded entrepreneurs from all sectors and walks of life. I learn from each person’s personal and professional journeys, and I take those life lessons and use them to fine-tune my own approach to business.

For that to happen though, I need to establish a high level of trust with each person that becomes part of my community. I need them to know that I care, that I can be trusted, and that I’m there to help (see previous article about John C. Maxwell’s connection criteria). While there are tips and techniques that help streamline the process of establishing trust, it isn’t something that necessarily happens overnight.

It also isn’t about only achieving MY goals. It’s about finding ways to support others. That can look like several different things: being a sounding board for bouncing ideas off of, being a cheerleader, asking questions that help the speaker clarify what’s holding them back, or stepping into observer mode and sharing insights and patterns that arise.

As part of the course work I am doing around Conversational Intelligence with Judith Glaser, we are exploring the foundations of trust (the trust model). Glaser explains that for TRUST to be established so that we can “co-create” shared outcomes, we need to:

  1. Quell fears and threats by being transparent in our communication (speak our truth)

  2. Listen to connect and to build a relationship that benefits both parties

  3. Listen to understand from the other party’s perspective as well as our own

  4. Listen to co-create strategies that lead to shared success (win-win)

  5. Listen to close reality gaps, test assumptions (ask questions), and tell the truth

While it may be tempting to skip a step or two—none of us likes unveiling our vulnerability!—true TRUST can only be established when all parties are fully invested in and committed to creating a “we-centric” relationship. And this is when the magic happens. Where our sense of belonging really begins to pop. Where we feel truly valued. It’s exciting stuff.

I know it’s possible. I’ve been part of a long-term mastermind group that has established this level of trust. The conversations that we have are all about creating each other’s successes. We admit to our humanness and we own our vulnerabilities and weakness. We observe and react to things that don’t align. And we cheer and lift each other up.

I jokingly say that all the mastermind participants are “addicted” to our conversations … but I can honestly say, they are the highlight of my week. I leave them feeling energized, honoured, respected, supported, and embraced. That’s huge.

Have you ever been part of a group that had this level of trust? What was different about the conversations you had when true trust existed? How can you re-create this in your business world to grow your business? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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