Impact of Trust on Communication and Team Effectiveness
Three students from the School for International Training (SIT) in Brattleboro, Vermont developed a 150 minutes experiential training component for the purpose of reflecting upon trust building strategies and skills for multi-cultural teams. The training was then piloted at SIT with three trainers and six participants. In the setting of a small graduate school in the countryside all participants knew each other from previous coursework. Despite the intimate setting, "trust" was a major theme for many of the various team activities that the school's curriculum demanded. Students had solid cognitive understanding about the need for trust building in multi-cultural teams and some of the strategies that could be used to achieve maximum team creativity, productivity and synergy; Yet, it was painfully apparent that the intellectual knowledge did not necessarily translate into successful team interaction. Out of this perceived need for attitudinal based training, we aimed to create a workshop that would explore deeper barriers to trust and build inductive strategies for transforming distrust into trust based on participants' previous experiences. Our workshop was comprised of three components: a visualization exercise, a balloon popping activity and a role-play. The purpose of the visualization exercise was to empower participants to become trust creators by increasing awareness about the inherent strength and potential that each person has to positively impact the dynamics of a team. The balloon activity was designed as a therapeutic component for releasing previously accumulated frustrations with teamwork. The final activity of a role-play was designed for allowing participants to actively experiment with some of the previously proposed distrust transformation strategies.