People seated and chatting

The ability to secure trust is a vital component to being a successful facilitator. You must gain the confidence of your workshop attendees as well as enhance the connections between the individuals in the group. As an Emergenetics Associate, you play an essential role in holding space for participants, so they can feel present, honest and accepting of themselves given the cognitive diversity in the room. 

Prioritizing trust also creates an environment of psychological safety, allowing people to embrace differences in thought and perspective. By cultivating assurance, individuals will feel more confident flexing into a non-preference and appreciating colleagues for who they are. 

Before exploring my recommendations to boost conviction, it’s important to understand the meanings of both trust and distrust. Trust evokes feelings of comfort, where people may show up as their authentic selves while believing that they are safe, respected and can be vulnerable with each other. Distrust encompasses sentiments of fear, judgment and insincerity.  

There are a number of trust-building techniques that you can apply to maximize your impact as an Associate and cultivate confidence with a group. 

Trust-Building Tips for Associates:

1. Embrace Vulnerability 

  • An important objective for every learning experience is to create an environment of psychological safety. One way to do so is to be the first one to be vulnerable. To receive trust, you sometimes have to be the first one to give it. You can set an example for your learners that they are in a place where they can be authentic.  
  • Sharing a personal story or a reflection about when you were in their shoes is a way to demonstrate openness. You can also acknowledge the inherent scratchiness related to the content you are teaching.

2. Accept Failure

  • Nourish trust by emphasizing the importance of making mistakes. Many people are embarrassed when it comes to missteps. It’s important to convey that failure is a natural part of every success. Promote owning up to one’s mistakes whenever you are training. It can also be helpful if you are a little self-deprecating about your own!  
  • When people can laugh, reflect or admit to their errors, they realize that in the big picture failure is not as detrimental as it might initially feel. One powerful reminder of the value of missteps comes from Thomas Edison, who after creating 10,000 unsuccessful prototypes of the electric bulb stated, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

3. Remain Open and Curious

  • When you are inclusive and steady, you help set the stage for trust to form. How you react or respond to participants is extremely important. Any level of defensiveness is likely to extinguish your participants’ willingness to be open as it can activate a person’s fight, flight or freeze state. 
  • As a facilitator, set a positive tone of being open and accepting of all feedback – even if you’re feeling misunderstood. Approaching questions and input with curiosity will help you to hold space for others and encourage attendees to do the same when they are faced with challenges or critiques.  

Guided Activities to Build Trust:

1. Blindfolded Obstacle Course

Begin the exercise by arranging furniture or other obstacles in the room you’re facilitating in – you will want a few obstacles placed in the direction participants walk in. Organize your audience into groups of either two or three. Once the teams are formed, provide the following instructions:

  • Select one person from each group to be the first one to be blindfolded. The goal will be to walk across the room without hitting any obstacles. 
  • Choose another person from each team who will instruct the blindfolded team member on how to get across.  
  • On a team of three, the third person will serve as an observer only, taking note of the other participants’ communication patterns while their trust is being challenged. 
  • Repeat this process until each person takes a turn as the one blindfolded and as the one giving instructions.  
  • Reflect on the activity afterwards, asking participants to describe how they felt directing someone whose trust was in their care, relying on another person while in a vulnerable state and observing as a neutral third party.

Using the blindfold creates a sense of dependency for the group, and the reflection allows them to contemplate their own levels of assurance given their different roles in the activity.

2. 3-2-1 Worksheet: Trust Edition

Distribute a 3-2-1 worksheet to your participants including the following prompts:  

  • What are 3 things your preferences need to build trust with someone?  
  • What are 2 things that break your trust given your Emergenetics preferences?  
  • What is 1 commitment that you will make to build trust with someone who has a different Profile than yours?  

Allow participants to share their answers in small groups. Their conversations will provide insight into what trust means based on their distinct preferences and how they might better cultivate confidence with colleagues who think and behave differently. 

3. LPA Activity

Initiate an exercise focused on the Least Preferred Thinking Attributes of your workshop attendees. Sort participants into groups based on their Least Preferred Thinking Attribute, or the smallest percentage of their pie chart. Once groups are formed, hand out flip chart paper and markers. Proceed with the directions below:  

  • Ask each team to write a love letter that would appeal to their assigned Attribute. An alternative would be drafting a holiday card or a sales presentation. The goal of the activity is to keep it light-hearted and fun! 
  • After 10 minutes, instruct one person from each group to present their letter. You as the facilitator, along with the participants in the room who have that Attribute in preference, can grade their work and provide feedback.  
  • Debrief the activity by asking participants about their experiences with the task, how difficult it was to work out of preference and what this exercise taught them about the Intent-Impact gap. 

Working in one’s Least Preferred Thinking Attribute can inspire individuals to be grateful for people who think differently than they do. When attendees achieve this sense of appreciation for those who possess opposing strengths, it will contribute to a foundation of trust.

Building trust with any group will take time. By showing up as your authentic self and creating a space where participants can safely embrace scratchy moments and express their differences, you can help any team gain new insights to build admiration and respect for one another. 


Learn how Emergenetics can empower you to create a high-trust environment. Explore our guide for actionable tips!  

HIgh-Trust Organization Guidebook

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