The Keys to Building Trust Under Pressure by Dr Neryl East

Dr Neryl East
Credibility expert
Automatic Summary

Building Trust Under Pressure: Insights from Dr. Nell East

Greetings from Sydney, Australia, Durra Country. I'm Dr. Nell East, and I'm here to share insights on building trust under pressure. Specifically, we're going to delve into how to handle self-doubt and ensure your voice is heard, even in the most challenging circumstances.

Trust and Credibility

I remember that fateful day when I made my first announcement at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Building trust and credibility under immense pressure, especially when you have a critical voice in your head questioning your capabilities, is a challenge we all face in different forms in our lives.

If we aim to build trust under pressure, having credibility is paramount. Your ability to be believed is the first step towards building trust. Unfortunately, research shows that our linguistic patterns, the way we use language, can affect our perceived credibility. This can pose substantial barriers to women, who may struggle to get their voice heard, land opportunities, receive promotions, or get due credit in some professional environments.

The Three Steps to Building Trust

In our quest to build trust under pressure, let's explore three ideas that might just help cultivate your confidence and credibility:

1. Balancing Competence and Warmth

Think of your credibility as a balancing act. The two elements you need are competence (your strengths, your expertise) and warmth (connecting with people, empathy). They should be present in equal measure. If they're out of balance, you won't be taken seriously and your trust-building efforts might falter.

2. Managing Your Personal State

The next aspect to consider is the state of your psyche, especially when self-doubt creeps in. Effective communication requires setting aside personal doubts and focusing your energy on the task at hand. Techniques like deep breathing, positive affirmations, visualizations, or even just taking a moment to prepare mentally can prove beneficial.

3. Preparation Is Key

Often, lacking confidence is inherent to being underprepared. A simple structure can help in organizing your thoughts and ensuring they come out fluidly in the moment. A method I swear by is the 'Rule of Three'. Organizing your information into three clear sections can give you a simplistic, yet effective blueprint for conversation. Trust me when I say, preparing and rehearsing for an important conversation can be just as vital as preparing for a presentation.

Overcoming Your Doubts

Remember, conflict isn't necessarily negative. Indeed, "A gem can't be polished without friction, nor a person perfected without trials," as the ancient saying goes. When you face your next challenging situation requiring trust-building, remember this. Keep these insights in mind, strive for balance and preparation, and stay positive.

You too can overcome the moment of self-doubt, just like I did during my announcement at the Olympics. With these tools and more, you can confidently build your credibility and ultimately, build trust under pressure. Embrace the amazing person you are and push past any obstacles standing in your way.

Video Transcription

Hello everybody. I'm Doctor Nell East. Coming to you from Sydney, Australia. Greetings from Durra Country. I'd like to pay my respects to the traditional custodians of our land. And I wonder where you're joining from? And is it the early hours of the morning for you?It's actually quite civilized here. It's just after 10 past six in the evening. It's lovely to be here with you talking all things, building trust under pressure. You know, I can still remember the day I saw the ad wanted ground announcers for the Sydney 2000 Olympic games. Now, I suspect that some of you watching this session probably saw those Olympics from your prams or, or strollers, but some of you might be old enough to remember. I was so excited when I saw that ad, I'd worked in television and radio for a long time and I was an Olympic junkie. So this was right up my street. So I raced around to put my application together, but then I heard it, the voice, the critical voice in my head. Do you have one of those, you know, the voice that whispers things to you and makes you doubt yourself. And mine was saying, what do you think you're doing? Why would they choose you to be an announcer at the Olympics? The greatest show on earth? Well, I really wanted to do it.

So I pushed through that critical voice and I got my application off and, and then I waited and I waited and waited and nothing happened and it was so confusing because I thought it was a good application. Anyway, time went on and the Olympics were getting closer. I still had heard no response at all to my application. And I thought, you know, this just isn't ok. I put a lot of effort into that application and to hear nothing. So I rummaged around and I found a phone number and I worked up the courage to ring up and my inner critic was saying to me, what are you doing now? You're gonna make a complete fool of yourself by ringing up. And I had to dig really deep to push past that. And I rang the person on the other end of the phone said, oh, we're so glad to hear from you. Um So glad that you've called. We really loved your application and your demo tape, but oh, we lost all of your information and we wanted to offer you an announcing role, but now all the roles have been filled. Oh, wait a minute. No, we still have two rolls left. One is in hockey and the other is in Taekwondo. Now, two things occurred to me at that point, they lost all of my information. These were the people we were trusting to run the Olympic games in Sydney. And two, what on earth is Taekwondo?

I said, I'll take the hockey, I'll take the hockey. So that's how it came to be that. I was sitting in the stands at the Olympic Hockey Stadium in Sydney in the year 22,000 people there watching millions watching on television. Perhaps you were one of them. And the man next to me, the producer starts counting me in for my very first announcement. And as he counted 10, 98, I li I, I could feel my life flashing before my eyes. I could feel the sweat on my palms. And as he counted 321, I was gripping the desk, big microphone sitting on it cos that was the only thing that was stopping me from passing out. And as I went to make my first announcement, nothing came out of my mouth and I just froze. Have you ever had an experience like that when you've gotta be on your a game when the pressure is on? But nothing comes out. Perhaps for you, it's when you have to have a conversation, maybe as a woman in technology, you're in a male dominated environment and it's difficult to have conversations sometimes, maybe it's not speaking up at meetings when you know that you should or even having difficult conversations with a team member or even a family member.

And, you know, if we want to build trust under pressure, that starts with having credibility, um being credible, the ability to be believed is the first step towards building trust. And often we don't take that first step. Would you agree? And unfortunately, the research doesn't paint a very positive picture for we as women because our linguistic patterns, the way we speak, the way we use language have a profound effect on how we are perceived by other people. And those language patterns, our tone, our pitch, our volume, whether our voice rises and falls a lot, whether we pause a lot, so many things, those characteristics are learned by us from a very early age and in many cultures, not everybody. Of course, I'm generalizing. But in many cases, our gender can have an impact on the type of linguistic patterns we pick up. So the, the chances are against us a lot of the time as women and those linguistic patterns determine how people hear you, how they listen to you. They determine who gets listened to whose voice is heard, who gets the opportunities, who gets the promotions, who gets the credit, all of those things come into play. And it's not just our language patterns that can get in the way of confidence and credibility that we need to build trust, especially when the pressure is on, we can also have experiences through our life that undermine our confidence and maybe that's been the case for you.

Now, in my case, I remember a turning point when I was 17 and I got plastered now, perhaps I know what you're thinking. Please don't judge me. I literally got plastered. I had major spinal surgery which meant that I was in a plaster cast from my neck to my hips for six months. And I literally went into my shell, I was put into a shell for that time. But I also went into my shell in terms of my confidence and credibility. I'd been quite a confident child before that, but that situation really took away a lot of my confidence. So for you, I wonder what your stories are from wherever you are, wherever you're listening and watching this from what are the stories for you that get in the way of your confidence in credibility and erode trust, particularly in pressure situations. So in the very short time, I've got with you, I wanna share three ideas with you three ideas that might just spark something for you to help you build your confidence and credibility as the first step towards building trust when the pressure is on. And the first of these is I want to encourage you to think about your credibility as a bit of a balancing act. Research tells us that for you to be credible, for you to be taken seriously and build trust. You need two elements present equally.

The first of those is your competence, a sense of strength. When you communicate your subject matter, expertise, your technical expertise, and perhaps as a woman in tech, you've got a lot of that, but that's only half the equation. You also need in equal measure to be conveying warmth, to be connecting with people, to uh build rapport, to be able to uh make people feel, feel safe and be able to relate to them. And these are things that we need in balance. Because if they're out of balance, you won't necessarily be taken CRE uh taken seriously and you won't be building trust. So if you're all technical competence, if you're all uh expertise and seriousness, when you communicate, you could be coming across as quite dry, maybe even a bit aloof, disconnected, perhaps even arrogant and maybe you don't even realize that on the other hand, if you're all about warmth and connection and building rapport and creating relationships, but you don't telegraph that you're also competent, you risk coming across as a lightweight and people may not take you seriously.

So for you, I wonder where you sit in that balance. Do you weigh towards one end or the other? And if for you, you're more towards that warmth and relationship end and you don't necessarily telegraph that you're competent. This is very, very common as the research says, generalizing again. But in many cases, as girls girls tend to interact and build conversational rituals with each other that foster that connection and collaboration and downplay the competence. In many other cases, young boys interact together in a way that rewards are winning and recognizes status, but perhaps downplays that connected side. So if you're more on that warm side, what can you do to signal that you're competent when you're in a meeting, when you're having a conversation? And I don't mean being braggadocious and walking in and saying, hey, you know, I'm the greatest at what I do, but you can do it in subtle ways. You can telegraph your competence. It can be as simple as saying something like in my experience or my position is rather than using weaker terms like I think or I reckon and getting rid of things like unnecessary apologies. I have to confess. I'm a serial, I'm a reformed serial. Apologize.

Can you relate to that? I would apologize for apologizing and I've had to work really hard on eliminating many of those phrases from my vocabulary and my linguistic patterns. So perhaps that's something that you can relate to and you can work on as well. So that's one thing getting yourself in the balance of credibility as the first step towards building trust. The second thing I'd like you to think about is managing your personal state, especially in those times where you need to build trust in a meeting or conversation. And you're finding that difficult perhaps because that self doubt is creeping in. You know, I work with a lot of senior leaders in very high pressure situations. And I used to think once you got to a very senior level, you no longer had self doubt, you had it all together. And of course, I've, I've since learned that that isn't the case. And in fact, often the more the higher somebody rises in the ranks, the more self doubt they can have. But what I've noticed is the leaders who are really outstanding communicators who are able to build trust with their teams and with their colleagues and stakeholders are the ones that even if they're feeling full of self doubt, they're able to put that aside in the moment for the time it takes to have that conversation or have that meeting.

It's very interesting because as humans, we are like Russian Babushka dolls, the dolls within the dolls, within the dolls. You know, the ones, I mean, we've got our outer selves, what we show to the outside world when we're on our best behavior. We've got our tribal selves, selves, which is how we communicate with people who know us best, our family and friends and perhaps our teams and colleagues. But inside that you've got your personal realm. This is the communication, the conversations you have only with yourself, maybe out loud.

That's OK. But these are the conversations that drive everything else about the way you communicate they're the engine room of your credibility. So what can you do in the moment to manage that state so that you are putting those self doubts aside now for you, uh It might be something like making sure you take some really deep breaths down into your abdomen for a couple of minutes before you go into a pressure situation.

It could be doing a little mini visualization. Uh Sometimes for me, if I'm in a situation where I'm under pressure and I need to demonstrate credibility and build, I will imagine all of the baggage that I'm bringing in, all of my doubts and my nerves and maybe even just the distractions of the day. And I imagine them piled up like luggage on an airport trolley because for a long time in Australia, we couldn't fly anywhere. And I imagine I just visualize leaving that trolley at the door, it might be an actual door. If I'm doing a presentation to a big audience, it might be a virtual door like this one or I'm speaking to you online, but I still do that little visualization. And I just find that allows me to put my self doubts aside so that in the moment I can be my most credible self and I can be trust more readily. There are other things that you can do. Maybe for you, it's, it's positive patter. You might call it a mantra or an affirmation and some people pooh pooh. That idea and say that it doesn't work and maybe it doesn't work for everybody. But I know for me that has been life changing when I've started to introduce positive patter into those inner conversations.

Now, I know, you know, all of this, you've heard this before, but I tell you what, it's like having a shower. You can't just learn it once and then say I'm good now, I'm confident and credible. You've gotta do it every day or more or less every day. We've gotta keep learning, we've gotta keep practicing. So the third thing that, that makes a big difference to your confidence and credibility, especially when you're under pressure and you need to build trust is having a structure and preparing. Sometimes we lack confidence simply because we're underprepared.

Now, if you were doing a presentation like this, there's a very good chance that you would put some time into preparing. Ah, but often we don't afford the same time and respect to conversations and meetings, even though the stakes could be just as high or even higher than a presentation where we need to build trust to get an outcome. So using a simple structure can give you a sc folding to hang your thoughts on. So you're not then struggling and grappling for the right words in the moment. Now, there are lots of different structures you can use, let's say you're in a meeting and you need to present an idea and perhaps, uh you know, it's a, it's a male dominated meeting. Perhaps you're feeling full of self doubt. My favorite structure, the most basic in the world, but it's the most effective in my view is the rule of three, the rule of three, organizing your information into three chunks of wisdom. Science tells us that our brains can pretty easily, uh remember, take in three pieces of information. Uh two pieces of information may not be enough. There's a, there's a sense of wanting more seven or 10 points is too many.

And you might notice even in this short presentation, I've used the rule of three. So what can you do to chunk your information down into three key points? Give that a try, give that a try in your next meeting, even in a conversation when you need to build trust, a conversation's a dialogue. So obviously the other person will be saying things as well, but you can at least go in with that little bit of preparation that's going to make a difference and make sure you practice, make sure you rehearse even an important conversation, say the words out loud, don't say them to yourself.

Go somewhere private to do that, but practice at least three times, say the words out loud. Your brain will then know that you've been there before when you're in the moment and now you can be at your best building, trust in that moment. So three quick ideas three quick tips to help you build trust by demonstrating credibility, keeping that balance between strength and warmth in your communication, managing your personal state, practice, whatever tools work for you to feel at your calmest and use a structure.

And always remember because when we communicate and under pressure, often what's really at the heart of our anxiety is a fear of conflict. And I learned a little while ago that conflict isn't good or bad. It just is. It's what you do with it that counts. But this quote helped me from an ancient philosopher and I've changed a bit cos it said man, and I've changed that to person. Conflict is a form of friction and friction can have very positive results. A gem can't be polished without friction, nor a person perfected without trials.

So I invite you to take that in to your next tricky situation where you've got to demonstrate trust. So here I was back at the Olympics and remember I'd frozen and nothing came out of my mouth when I was meant to be making my first announcement. But you know that moment of, of being frozen really only lasted a couple of seconds. Next thing you know, I was taking a deep breath and then I was making my first announcement, welcoming everybody to the Sydney 2000 Olympic games. The crowd was cheering, the players were running out, the game was starting and I was underway. You see, I prepared for that moment, I knew what I was doing. I was ready, but just for a second, I doubted it. I pushed down my certainty and I gave into the doubts, but I was able to override it. You can do that too. You can use these tools and others to build your credibility, your confidence, your certainty so that you can build trust under pressure. I trust this short presentation has been useful for you in your journey. Feel free to reach out to me. I wish you all the best for the rest of this wonderful event. Take care and keep being the amazing person. You are. Thanks everybody and bye for now.