Valuing Virtues, Creating a High Trust Environment
Nigel Ipp (Nodi) B Prim Ed, B Ed – UCT, Master Facilitator VP™
A) Language is powerful. It is key to creating relationships of trust. Language with action makes the greatest impact. Virtues language uses Words Wisely with tone, body language and listening. Take a moment to reflect, and then, respond. Affirm and acknowledge people. Articulate with responsibility and respect. Choose to enhance and advocate human rights.
Effective learning happens, through empathetic teachers who get to know individuals. These educators support the learning style and pace of each learner.
The quality of our communication matters. Our words are a thread weaving a tapestry of understanding and trust (or distrust). Be sensitive with words, tone and emphasis. Notice receptivity in body language, micro- expressions and micro-tones. There is more in this than you think. Being sensitive to these subtleties, is empathy. It results in perception that more often aligns with the person. It creates a trusting and peaceful atmosphere which maximises the chances of success.
Discerning communication creates a dynamic atmosphere. This is characterised by curiosity, empowerment, support and nurture.
1) Choose Peacefulness First ~ use eye contact, it affirms connection, grows trust, builds courtesy, respect and collaboration.
2) Second is humour and light hearted friendliness ~ relaxation and ease, dissolves barriers.
3) Reason is third … As a youth I was taught to assume that Reason is paramount, but found out that concern, anxiety and stress get in the way. They need to be dismantled first, with peacefulness and humour.
B) Pyramids and hierarchies of power need to be flattened into a level playing field. This creates safety, fairness and calm. It is achieved by building high trust environments. Help bullies and bossy people become Leaders. Leaders are guided by respect, integrity, competence and agenda. Their record speaks for itself. They see these qualities and can identify talent and service. Turn negative self-fulfilling prophesies into:
I AM enough, but I’m NOT perfect.
and THAT, is okay,
and that is normal.
I am a kind person.
I will strive to develope, the person I am meant to be.
I will advocate for others to be the person they are meant to be.
I call on my best self.
I choose excellence of character.
[reflect, remember, repeat]
C) Acknowledgment is not praise. Young people often try to please teachers to get praised. Is it true that praise is often more about the praisor? What they judge! Their perceptions, their values? Praisors who have favourites, often undermine fairness. Praise seldom provides realistic feedback on development, rather the pleasure or the displeasure of the praisor. Less effective educator praise, “You’re such a good soccer player”, doesn’t address what the person needing feedback is actually doing, “I see your creativity when you run off the ball, it often leads to goals”.
When you notice character strengths acknowledge them. Actions have invisible virtues behind them. Acknowledge the character traits / virtues / values behind the action – ‘I see your patience when things are delayed. You show tolerance with people who need your help. Creativity and friendliness during drama practise is appreciated by your peers. I acknowledge your fairness in sorting out difficulties.’ This shows appreciation for skills, contributions and efforts. The person being acknowledged knows it’s true, because of the action, “Yes I do have creativity when I run off the ball.” Their self image, esteem and dignity are enhanced. We are on the same page. Mutual respect and agreement strengthens. Even a glance of acknowledgement is effective. Trust awakens and deepens. ‘I appreciate your diligence in completing the project on time and following instructions.’ We want to tell someone the truth in a way they can hear us – Tact!!
A trustworthy person opens our heart.
Trust nurtures creativity, love and freedom.
True or False: Trust is built in small and almost insignificant moments?
Trust = choosing to make something that is important to you, vulnerable to the actions of someone else. Distrust = what I have shared with you that is important to me, is not safe with you. ~ Charles Feltman
D) Showing one’s humanity – be an example. People love stories, especially personal stories of your life. Vulnerability is a fascination. Everyone’s Choices Matter. Who you are makes a difference. Make quality time to connect – empathy. Be
open, explore purpose. Be helpful. Show your simple humanity.
E) Teachable Moments – be open to learning every moment. Practice makes improvement not
perfect – being imperfect is OKAY, it has to be, because its what we are!
Repeat the affirmation from B) above!
Assert you are a lifelong learner. Use opportunities to share story e.g. how you sorted problems out ; apologies accepted ; forgiveness and humility ; unity & community. Examples of virtues used with challenging situations, movies, bookss, the character of successful leaders ; virtue of the week ; caught in the act chart ; exploring opportunity!!
F) Set Clear Boundaries – Resolving Conflicts
i) RESTORATIVE processes use self dignity and honour to motivate.
Restorative processes restore honour and fairness through being present, listening, being seen, acknowledging strengths, working with challenges, as well as making amends. DO NOT let others quip in and make comments. If the quippers persist, take them aside and assert personal rights to not being laughed at, the classroom value of fairness and emotional safety. This privacy of self respect is necessary for everyone. This boundary must be clear.
ii) Use the Principle of: Peacefulness First! Humour second, (laugh with, not at) and third, listen with empathy to understand with Reasons. Peacefulness first ; sit together to discuss what happened ; both were there, so they must formulate the same story of what happened. Adult is fully present and listens. Negative behaviour could be provoked. Making amends means telling the other that I accept responsibility for what I did, and will try not to do it again. I respect your rights to safety and wellbeing. Teach your version of the following: “I will try to use peaceful and assertive words to sort out a problem, because I know that using my body to hurt and make people scared, is not okay”.
ii) Listen with Empathy & Talk with Reason
iii) Ask WHAT and HOW questions not
WHY – why needs to be justified, which often leads to emotional defensiveness. What and how invite descriptiions of what happened. They are non-judgmental and open ended questions!!
iv) Vision and Mission and Policy boundaries and HR – Virtues based.
1) speak with courtesy – acknowledge openly.
2) wait with patience – attention without interruptions, disturbances or distractions.
3) listen with respect – communication with clarity and accuracy.
4) act with cooperation – for helpfulness, flow and unity
v) Be an example of resilience and flexibility, courage and trust. A safe and creative system ; respectful assertiveness NOT bossy / bully offensiveness.
Act with TACT – assert “stop” and mean it, even be fierce ; cut off teasing backbiting and bullying at their roots.
vi) Use ‘I statements’ for strong feelings and emotions around specific situations and actions e.g. “I don’t like it when you interrupt me in mid sentence when I’m briefing people. What can we do about this, how can we change this to make things easier for us?”
vii) Invite people to use the Walk Away Option. ‘Emotional hijacking’ creates reactive defensiveness or attack. How do we make the choice to walk away to regain peacefulness before responding to what has happened.
viii) Shoulder to Shoulder walk and talk – this makes a connection and eases tension. One-on-one engagement – ask what and how questions ; encourage story, share your story, often personal examples help. People want and need to be heard. Explore what virtues will help handle the challenges being shared and how we can help each other. What will it take to move forward? How can we apply the mission and the vision? How can we co-create optimum conditions?
G) Honour the Spirit – Silence and Spirituality – peacefulness ; reverence ; prayerfulness ; wellbeing. ‘Peacefulness Corner’ – private and safe space for the person ; linked with Sacred Space / table / shelf for one’s sacred objects. Change that endures happens slowly and in stops, starts and sometimes what looks like going backwards. Improvement is gradual.
H) Companioning – – discuss and teach empathy, consideration, compassion ; a companion is someone who is a safe harbour in a bay for others to dock themselves ; a cushion to rest ; a presence to be heard. The process works more effectively with What and How and cup emptying questions (not the judgmental
Why , which calls us to personal justification and often defensiveness) ; mirroring helps others feel emotional empathy ; what virtue will help? ; what virtues can be acknowledged?
I) Once in a while a gift is appropriate to embody virtues that have been shown by specific actions. This is a ceremonious way of acknowledging. It can be part of the culture! Invite others to write acknowledgements or verbalise it in public. We want to acknowledge ongoing loyalty, integrity, competence, fairness, excellence etc. This gift, maybe a semi-precious stone, is not a reward !! It cannot be earned. It recognises and bring to consciousness all the virtues and values we normally take for granted in ourselves as well as in others. The use of virtue cards or a focus on a few character strengths that matter, empowers people especially when others are able to articulate what they look like.