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Habits of Highly Effective Communicators — Part 1: Creating Trust

by Christine Comaford

3 minute read

    “Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying”

    –Pink Floyd

    When did you last see someone’s eyes glaze over when you were talking to them?


    People misunderstand one another daily.


    Because we are speaking different languages—and I’m not talking Spanish/English or another combo. We’re speaking different languages at a subterranean, subconscious, primal level.

    In two recent blogs I wrote about the 3 things human beings crave (safety, belonging, mattering) as well as the power of speaking in meta programs.

    I’ve received sooooo many requests for more examples of actual communications that I am dedicating this blog to this crucial topic.

    Part 1, creating trust!

    How to Give Someone Safety, Belonging, Mattering via Words

    When we communicate and give someone what they crave the results are remarkable… and swift.

    1. Let’s say someone craves safety. You know this because they talk about not feeling safe often, and when they are in their Critter State they take safety away (misery loves company) —and they instill fear in others.  Here’s wording that validates them and could even talk them “off the ledge”: “You are doing everything correctly, thanks for stretching! I’ve got your back. Reach out to me if I can provide any clarity, brainstorming, support of any kind.” With a communication like this the Critter Brain (our fight/flight/freeze response) says “ahhhhhh.” Now the risk-averse or fearful person can rise up, take more risks, innovate better, collaborate better. We’re helping them shift into their Smart State and feel safe.
    2. What if someone craves belonging, and they want to feel part of a group and to know they have equal value? First look at how they act in the Critter State—likely they isolate and/or form silos and divisions among people. Here’s some belonging messaging: “I’m so glad you’re on the team. It’s great to have you here. Who could you bring into the loop or mentor to help them succeed too, and to expand our tribe?” You’re bringing them the experience of belonging and helping them spread it to others.
    3. If someone craves mattering they want to feel appreciated and that they are making a difference. Likewise when they are in their Critter State  they take mattering away—they make people feel small and invisible/unimportant. Here’s some messaging: “You’re my top pick to run this project–I totally trust and appreciate you and your contributions and gifts. How can I help you shine?” You’re showing them they matter and that you appreciate their talents.

    Gimme! How To Ask Someone To Give You What You Crave

    Here are three examples when you want to get what you crave, instead of the above where we give others what they crave.

    Safety: “I want to be the best [executive/leader/partner/etc] I can be. Could you help me create structures , techniques, processes to foster innovation, safe and sane risk taking, intellectual challenges? I think this could really help us grow and stretch.”

    Belonging: “I want to be the best [executive/leader/partner/etc] I can be. Could you provide me with opportunities to bring people together, to form teams and help them perform at their peak? I would love to contribute this way.”

    Mattering: “I want to be the best [executive/leader/partner/etc] I can be. Could you let me know when you’re happy with my work/contributions and what specifically you like? This will help me do more of what matters to you and the company.”

    Safety + Belonging + Mattering = Creating Trust.

    When we give people what they crave their Critter brain calms down and we can guide them into their Smart State.

    This is where true rapport, connection, alignment, enrollment, engagement live. Oh–and high performance, collaboration, sustainability is the result!


    Christine Comaford of SmartTribes Institute applies the latest neuroscience research to help companies build vibrant engaged culture, rich and committed leadership, consistently compelling sales and marketing.

    Christine Comaford

    Christine Comaford

    Bill Gates calls her “super high bandwidth.” Bill Clinton has thanked her for “fostering American entrepreneurship.” For over 30 years New York Times bestselling author and Leadership and Culture Coach Christine Comaford has helped leaders navigate growth and change. Christine is known for proven strategies to optimize executive performance, powerfully enroll and align teams, and rapidly increase sales and company value. The potent neuroscience techniques she teaches are easy to learn and apply. Christine has built and sold 5 businesses with an average 700% ROI, served on over 24 boards and has invested in over 200 startups, including Google. She has consulted to the White House (Clinton and Bush), 700 of the Fortune 1000, 300 mid-sized business. She was a software engineer in the early days of Microsoft, Apple and Adobe. Be sure to pick up a copy of her 2nd New York Times bestseller SmartTribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together.

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