People work better with people they trust.

Effective leaders know that there’s a lot to be gained (and learned) from listening, but they don’t always have the time to “go there.” Three questions make it easier to build trust at work.

1. What do they need?

When meeting with someone, it’s easy to fall back on traditional “negotiation skills” as you seek the end goal. On your way to the meeting consider their needs, and where they are coming from. This is a way to build rapport without really having to “do” anything.

2. How can I notice them? 

Most of the people you interact with are starving for positive attention. Specifically, they want to be noticed for the contribution they make, for the good work they do. Notice what people are doing and catch them doing something right. Acknowledge them with a specific example of how their work is helping the company.

3. What “worry” is on its way?

During an especially difficult part of a hike I was on last year (the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim, 52-mile/2-day Grand Canyon event) one hiker was struggling. He did not stop talking about hard it was. So, I asked him to tell me what he could imagine his kids (ages 9 and 13) would be doing in a decade. He refocused his energy! For 2 hours, he thought and talked, hiking through the difficult uphill section of the climb.

Effective leaders notice when the people around them could use a little support, need to be noticed, and are challenged by what’s right in front of them. It’s your job as their trusted leader to make it easier for people to do their best work.

Practice asking these three questions, and see how it improves your interactions this week.