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The Trust Building Tango

In the late 1800’s the tango was the dance craze of the working class. A combination of latin, european and african influences, it is a dance that is filled with dynamic balance, turning, moving at a variety of speeds and, of course, a little romance. The colloquialism, “it takes two to tango” is as appropriate in community as it is on the dance floor.

Working and planning together across a community is a dance of action, process, balance and, like tango partners, trust. The trust between two dancers has always been intriguing. When there is an obvious level of trust between partners, a feeling of ease exudes. In our context, the work of building community partnerships and collaboration happens with that same sense of ease only when trust is present among those involved. Whether you are the one taking the “lead” or “following”  (oh my, the fun of a metaphor), there are things you can do to support the trust building process.

In the lead?

  • share what you know…be transparent
  • deliver on your promises
  • empower others to make decisions and represent the group
  • be open and listen to everyone’s opinions
  • ask for feedback
  • assume that others will do what they commit to doing without checking up on them
  • provide appropriate credit and recognition
  • admit your own mistakes, errors in judgement and inability to meet commitments, every dancer steps on toes sometimes!

In the role of follower?

  • accept action items and timelines only when you know you can deliver
  • be a staunch supporter of professionalism and confidentiality
  • disagreements happen, always treat other’s opinions with respect
  • be honest (enough said)
  • don’t take all the credit in a collaborative group
  • lead from wherever you are (reality is that we all have leadership roles – particularly in a collaborative process!)

To build trust – you have to trust and be trusted. Take these ideas for a spin around the dance floor.  The ideas have been inspired by Glenn Parker and Robert Hoffman’s book Meeting Excellence as well as tips gleaned from recent dance partners.

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