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  • BY DEENA KORDT

Strategies for Building Confidence & Trust in Compassionate Communities

Trust and Community. These should go hand in hand, yet we’ve been through some recent challenges, on a global scale, that tested and undermined our tendency to trust those in our own communities - our family, friends, neighbors and colleagues. So how can we rebuild that? I think it starts with compassion. For ourselves and others. Where can we start? I have some suggestions.


This is what I know now..

  1. Things are not always the way they appear.

  2. And everyone has a story.


Let’s start with the 1st part - Things are not always the way they appear..


Here are some examples where I’ve been surprised or felt deceived by what I discovered. Can you relate to any of these?

Things are not always the way they appear on:

  • Dating apps

  • Weight loss programs

  • Medicine advertisements

woman on dating app
How do you build confidence & trust in compassionate communities
  • “Healthy” food options

  • “Free” trials

  • Job titles

  • Social media

Or how about:

  • The amount of chips (& air) inside a brand-new bag

  • The hotel room in-person vs the one shown online

  • Baby bumps – I don’t recommend commenting on them unless you’re sure..

  • & a personal pet peeve - sports car transmissions – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a sexy sports car at a car show, leaned in & spotted an automatic tranny.. seriously?! If you know, you know.


Sometimes we’re pleasantly surprised to discover things are not always as they appear..

  • Like finding out that the rustic little cabin you rented for a romantic getaway includes access to a hot tub and complimentary continental breakfast that you weren’t expecting.

  • You think your family forgot your birthday, but they throw you a surprise party.

  • Your amazon order shows up and that expensive pair of silky undies that you splurged on turns out to be a 4-pack!


What about the new ‘evil’ of AI?!

Have you tried Ai in any form? Are you terrified of it? Or do you love it?

If you listen to certain people, you’d think it was the beginning of the end (just like the internet when it debuted about 30 some years ago) but now we can’t live or do business without it!

Speaking of AI, we now question what we read, wondering if it’s been generated by a digital brain.


Things are not always as they appear.


The next part of this – Everyone has a story


This summer I was at the auto parts store 4 days in a row – in 4 completely different looks from high heels to cowboy boots, from manicured to grease-stained nails. By appearance, I looked like 4 different ppl, but even an example as simple as this draws a picture of how we can easily misinterpret who someone really is. So, which one was really me? All 4 and several more.


We are all complex beings with many sides, many stories, many experiences.

We are so quick to jump to conclusions and make judgements based on first appearances & first impressions, comparing what we see and hear with what we know at that point in time. We decide which box to drop someone in by the way they look & speak (or whether their sports car is an automatic), even assessing their non-verbal cues. This isn’t necessarily wrong. This is just human nature. Well, all nature, but we’re just talking about humans today. It’s been built into us on a primal level for survival. But we have evolved enough to be more intentional with this instinct.


When you meet someone, you appraise their value based on several criteria – including their intellectual, socioeconomic or investment value and how they might increase your value. Business relationships are also usually based on these types of value systems. But what about the human value of those connections?


How often have you gone through your contact list or see someone pop up in your LinkedIn or Facebook feed and you have no clue who they are? You assume there was some reason at some time for them to be added, but what is their reason for being there now? Who are they?


Everyone has a story.
Things are not always as they appear.
How often have you discovered that your first impression wasn’t very accurate? It happens to me frequently.

So, how do you use your instincts to intentionally recognize and connect with the human value in others?

Great question! I’m glad you asked.


Start by getting curious.

  • If you hear an accent, ask where it came from.

  • If someone drops a small personal comment into a conversation, that’s an invite to explore & ask for more.

  • If you see something they’ve shared online, that’s a great opening to learn what is important to them.

  • Being interested in getting to know a bit more about them doesn’t make you a snoopy creeper.

  • Genuinely compliment them about something, ask for information about it and you’ll likely uncover an unexpected fact about them – at the very least, they will appreciate the compliment and remember your kindness.

  • How about tattoos & nicknames? OMG, they can be the best! Ask for the story behind them. These are usually quite interesting & often entertaining.


Here’s something I very rarely share.. mostly because it’s kinda boring.

It’s the only nickname I’ve ever had, and my dad is the only one who used it. I have absolutely no idea why he came up with this. He doesn’t even know!

The nickname he had for me was “Gumby”. I have never even seen the cartoon that this green rubber toy named Gumby starred in with an orange horse named Pokey, but apparently my dad thought it was cute to call me that. Most nicknames though come with a better story than mine. And include a fun glimpse into someone’s history even if they’ve outgrown the origin of it. Here again, don’t assume – a nickname like Toots McGoots may not be referring to an abundance of flatulence, but rather someone who is impatient in traffic!


Now this whole practice of building better relationships around human value by learning other’s stories is not one-sided. Get curious about others, but also allow them to get to know you too. Admittedly, this can feel awkward, and you’ll have to trust them enough to be vulnerable, but in my experience, people are grateful for this opportunity and are gracious and kind – outside of the occasional light-hearted razzing that helps us see the lighter side of life and not take ourselves too seriously.


When you make the effort to build this kind of connection with others, whether family, friends or clients, it gives you an advantage! You will be far more memorable, relatable, and recommendable. You will know how to best work with them, communicate with them and in some cases, live & play with them.


Here’s another important thing to consider, something you can start right now to build confidence. Many of us arrive at a conference, meeting or networking event and feel like a fraud, suffering from an acute (or chronic) case of imposter syndrome. Telling ourselves: “I don’t belong here with all these powerful, influential, successful entrepreneurs.” “I hope they don’t suspect that I’m barely breaking even with my business.” “Why would any of them want to do business with me or even consider me a good connection or want to get to know me” or … insert your own imposter message.


Even the most famous & successful people frequently experience this. I find that it helps to remember that. This is a common human ailment that we struggle to get past. If you think you’re the only one stuck there, then you’ll be making a false assumption. Many around you are feeling the same way. When you consider that, you will see them with more compassion, they will be less intimidating and you’re more likely to have the confidence to connect with them. Don’t let imposter syndrome impede your opportunities to build new networks.


You often hear people introduce themselves as Jane Doe XYZ Financial.. I’m willing to bet there’s a lot more to Jane Doe than XYZ Financial. I encourage you to get to know the human part of that identity. Ask about her ‘why’ for doing what she does. When you hear her tell the why of what she does you’ll not only learn more about who Jane Doe is, but you’ll likely also have a better chance of remembering what her business is.


If things get cringey when someone is sharing a personal story, give it a minute – don’t just try shutting them down, changing the topic or slinking off to hide in the bathroom,

see this as an opportunity to practice building a genuine human connection with someone without an agenda of how to turn them into a business prospect. When that story starts, that’s your cue, your invitation to drop judgement, lean in and get curious – curious to learn more about the human in front of you, not to judge or gossip, but to hear them. Seek to understand and then to be understood.

blind date
If things get cringey when someone is sharing a personal story, give it a minute.
  • Try to see what they’re describing as if you’re reading their story in a book or watching it in a movie. Make your best effort to ditch assessing and start visualizing, asking for clarification when there are gaps. You will be surprised at what you’ll learn.

  • Ask them if they have anything to celebrate? People’s stories aren’t always full of negative drama. What about the things they are hesitant to share at the risk of sounding vain or braggy? Invite them to share that and celebrate with them.


Creating a culture of compassion connects you with the HUMAN VALUE in each of your contacts. It builds trust and confidence. How do you do that? Taking the time to get to know them, their challenges and their celebrations builds genuine connection, it inspires creativity and it welcomes collaboration.


Practice seeing, acknowledging and respecting the human value in everyone first. Not the value they can bring to your business.

When we view our contacts as fellow human beings, each with a unique journey, experiences and background that mirror our own in some respects but diverge in others, we pave the way for authentic connections.


By approaching these interactions with genuine curiosity and compassion we welcome the building of relationships that are resilient and loyal, more forgiving of an occasional error or misunderstanding and are long-lasting. Building a trusting community of confident compassion starts with every interaction & ripples out from there.


What I know now is that things are not always as they appear.

and

Everyone has a story.

  • See them.

  • Get to know them.

  • Allow them to know you.


Genuine human connection is always the best place to start in any relationship.

In business it transcends transactions.


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Meet the expert:

Deena Kordt, Author | Publisher | Podcaster | Advocate
Deena Kordt, Author | Publisher | Podcaster | Advocate

Deena draws from her personal journey of overcoming significant loss, domestic abuse and formidable challenges to passionately empower others through her insightful books, compelling content, and captivating presentations.

She communicates a deep sense of caring, assuring individuals that they are not alone in their struggles, emphasizing the availability of compassionate support from others who genuinely care.

As owner and publisher of Divorce Magazine Canada, Life Changes Magazine, online resource groups, a podcast, blog and more, she fosters collaborations to support those navigating life, connecting them with the resources that can help them through their challenges.


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