2. Establish Your Targets and Expectations

Clear targets and expectations nourish the brain's natural capacity to develop new neural circuitry. By contrast, learning is diminished with ambiguous or unstated objectives, leading to potential shutdown into old patterns. Concretely visualizing and writing down these desired outcomes naturally prioritizes the mind's attention and directs the brain to find new ways to achieve, create, and innovate. Your targets and expectations represent a powerful clarification of where you'd like your conversation with ____________ to go. In turn, this work builds further energy because it fleshes out the deeper meaning of the few words you used in your core question to transform a problem into a possibility.


The fundamental target of this 9-step process is a conversation to build trust with ___________. It is an act of personal growth simply to design and complete this conversation.

Think of at least one additional target (but not more than two additional targets) over and above this basic outcome. Consider one or two targets having to do with your most important messages or requests contained within this conversation. First, brainstorm a range of key visible outcomes that you could see and hear as plainly as if it were video-taped -- such as "lower decibel conversations" or "an invitation to participate on the Project X team." Select only one or two of these above the fundamental target listed above; then highlight them on your worksheets.


Expectations are longer term, ultimate measures that you and others could use to tell whether or not trust has been built with ______________. You might succeed in meeting the targets, but trust may not yet truly be present. For example, the Team Trust Survey suggests that trust is present when people:
  1. Give each other truthful, supportive feedback that contains helpful suggestions for change.
  2. Share and disclose issues, challenges, history, or other sensitive topics that show their vulnerable sides.
  3. Actively empower one another's leadership and decision-making.
  4. Notice their conflicts and differences and actively work to shift them into sources of innovation, collaboration, and synergy.
  5. Bring tough, emotional issues to one another and work them through to constructive outcomes.
  6. Actively show appreciation to one another, and affirm one another's talents, gifts, and life journey.

When you think about the trusting relationship you want to have with ____________, what would you say are some of the most important visible measures that you would use? Brainstorm as many expectations as you can that flesh out your image of what successful trust-building will result in; then highlight about five on your worksheets, including any ones from the list above that are especially important to you.

Here's an example:

Two managers, Raul and Marcy, had a falling out some years ago when Raul was selected into a job Mary wanted. As peer level managers, they have a very basic level of cooperation, but they don't really talk to one another. People have noticed low-level tension between them in meetings for years. Mostly, they use their staffs to talk to each other or coordinate work, even though this can be frustrating to members of their teams and inspires more competition between the groups than collaboration. After a recent painful episode implementing a new financial reporting system that resulted in bad feelings between the groups, Raul decided enough was enough -- it was time to improve the relationship and get over past baggage. He listed his Targets and Expectations as follows:
  • Plan and follow-through on a trust-building conversation with Marcy, and
  • Co-create a task-force to plan and implement the new system smoothly, co-led by Marcy and me, with members from each department participating.
  • Spontaneous statements of positive appreciation between Marcy and me for one another's work, noticed by staff members in both departments.
  • Setting aside of baggage from the past -- no more "zingers" or put downs referencing prior history.
  • Addressing conflicts and differences up-front and when they occur, and with an effort to collaborate rather than compete for a right answer.
  • Joint praise from the vice-president of our location on improvements to the relationship.
  • Comfortable, less stressed meetings where everyone participates more openly and easily when we are present.

Now Take It Just One Step Further

Now "amp up" your vision even farther allowing yourself the time and space to elaborate an even richer image in your mind, making this image as real as possible. Look back at what you have developed so far and now put some real juice in it by asking "what if" questions that help you picture novel, breakthrough opportunities.
"What if the targets and expectations were fully met? What then would that make possible for each of us?"
"What innovation might we generate together?"
"What improvements could that make in levels of satisfaction, fulfillment, productivity, renewal, engagement?"
The more you are able to picture exciting possibilities -- really fleshing them out in your mind -- the more positive energy that can spill into trust-building work. The reason for this is that experiencing a clear vision elicits the same chemical reactions in your brain as if you were embracing the actual fact. In turn, these positive chemical reactions can drive a self-fulfilling cycle of new behaviors -- for both you and the person with whom you are building trust.

Continuing the example used above:

When Raul looked back over his Targets and Expectations, he immediately began to also think about these possibilities:
  • A truly enjoyable, complementary relationship with Marcy, with open, comfortable communications relieved of old stresses and tensions where we are co-leading -- and --
  • Ongoing life to the task force beyond implementing the new reporting system, where team members would guide the group themselves and streamline all the "hand-offs" between the departments
  • Developing and attending joint training programs to enhance collaboration at all departmental levels
  • Invitation to other department managers to informally get together to talk through coordination of all strategic initiatives
  • Creating an internal "skunkworks" for department staff as a place to try out their best ideas.
The more he thought about these possibilities, the more he felt empowered to get started in his initial work rebuilding his relationship with Marcy as a first step towards renewal of the department as a whole.