Archive for March, 2013

5 Spy Tricks to Create Trust with Others

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

As a counterintelligence FBI agent, people ask me how I could create trust when I lied to the targets of my undercover investigation about my identity.

In my book, Secrets of A Strong Mind, I talk about why building trust with oneself is as important as building trust with others. I only ran into trouble in undercover cases when I tried to be someone other than who I really am, beneath the surface. I never lied to the targets of my undercover investigations about the important things in life.

This is the secret: I was always authentic. A person can slap on a different name or title, but who they are as a person does not change.

To create trust was difficult when developing human intelligence sources (HUMINT)— people from the community who knew and worked with the spy I was trying to recruit. These are people I met in my true name and identity. I still could not always be as transparent as they (or I) would have liked in discussing my future plans because that information was classified.

I found these interactions to be a straddle between interrogation and conversation, never daring to cross over too far in either direction. I needed their cooperation so I tried to keep the interaction all very conversational, and yet they were meeting and doing business with a member of a hostile intelligence service. So there were times when I felt the need to dig my teeth in and—yes, interrogate.

Trust ran both ways. I trusted them not to run back to the spy and divulge every detail of my conversation with them. The spy business is not the only area where we need to create trust.

How can entrepreneurs, business owners, and leaders create trust needed for authentic conversations in an era of deceit and cynicism? It is tempting to be judgmental about what is, or is not, considered to be a lie.

The question is not whether people lie, it’s what are they lying about? Are they stretching their optimism and hoping business will turn around? Or are they creating a fabrication like Bernie Madoff? Is the CEO telling a half-truth or are they merely omitting an important piece of information?

Here are five things to keep in mind when you want to create trust with others:

1. Remember That People Deceive Themselves As Much As They Deceive Others

People are capable of deceiving themselves into believing any number of things—sometimes they exaggerate their own importance or abilities to impress others. Sometimes they’re too critical of their own efforts and don’t give themselves enough credit for their accomplishments.

We know what it feels like to fall into the snare of self-deception or self-limiting beliefs—with luck, only briefly. The incredible thing about self-deception is that not only are we telling a lie, but it’s ourselves we are lying to! We all have blind spots about our own performance and the better we’re able to understand them, the more empowered we will be.

2. Not All Deceit Is Equal

All of us have taken steps to improve ourselves in the sight of others. This is cosmetic deceit and it refers to our efforts to make ourselves look better than we are. It can be a dab of make-up to hide a blemish or the use of words to hide an imperfection in our work performance that we’d rather not broadcast to the world. I’ve used cosmetic deceit when dealing with others, such as compliments on hair, performance, or a sermon with the intention of making the other person feel better and soften the edges of an embarrassment.

I used deceit on a superficial level when working undercover counterintelligence cases. Even so, it’s impossible to create trust in an authentic manner—this is why undercover agents are “cutout” and replaced by an FBI agent utilizing their true identity. Authentic trust is impossible to build if it is based on deception or ulterior motives. You can only move to a certain point in a relationship if you did not create trust around it, so the undercover agents were moved out to bring in agents who could move the relationship to the next step.

3. Authentic Trust Is Built When There’s A Commitment To The Relationship

In the same way, authentic conversations are built when there’s a commitment to growing and deepening the relationship, not just to maintain the status quo. If the relationship is the central consideration, mutual commitments are essential to avoid concerns about manipulation or control in the conversation. A strong leader is one who can create trust in authentic relationships regardless of title or position.

4. People Assess Information Differently When They Believe It’s True

A few years ago, Joel and Ethan Coen produced a movie called Fargo. It tells the story of a kidnapping case that goes deadly wrong. The opening credits announced that the movie is based on a true story. Journalists could not find any reference to the crime depicted in the movie, and eventually the producers admitted that it was all fiction. The Coen brothers explained that they believed that if the movie were represented as a true story, it would have more credibility with the audience.

We enter into relationships with the same desire for honesty because experience has shown that honesty is the foundation upon which trust is built.

5. We Are Empowered When We Have The Courage To Create Trust

The Bible reminds us in the letter to the Ephesians that when we do good unto others, we are most fully ourselves:

  • When you look for the good in others, they will show it to you.
  • When you appreciate the worth in others, it’s easy for them to be their best.
  • When you accept others, they show you their strengths.
  • When you notice others, they feel like they belong and are special.
  • When you need others, they feel the good in themselves.
  • When you look for the beauty in others, you will discover your own best self.
  • When you bring out the best in others, you make powerful friends.
  • When you find the gift of others, you find reasons to believe in yourself.

How do you create trust with others? 

© 2013 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

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Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.” 



6 Ways To Get Through Adversity

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

To get through adversity, many homesteaders sold whiskey illegally during Prohibition in the 1930’s. My Dad had pointed out a still used to brew whiskey to my brother and I when all three of us were on horseback and gathering cattle on our Wyoming ranch. All that was left of the still was a few barrel rings and a wall of rocks. It was tucked into a steep draw surrounded by aspen trees and a little cow trail leading toward the bottom of the canyon near our house.

My brother and I collected antique glassware as a hobby and planned to go back to the whiskey still and look around for old bottles. We figured we could find it again easily enough, so after school we told our parents we were going out to play and would be back in time for supper. We started walking up the canyon, and when we saw a draw that looked familiar, we started up.

Our ranch was located in the scatterings of the Snowy Mountain Range at an altitude of 7,000 feet. Summers are short in that country, and the green aspen trees that looked lush and cozy when we rode past them a few months before, were now barren and cold.

Night fell much earlier in the winter months and dusk was starting to set in. We could not find the whiskey still but we continued on until we reached the top of the draw. When we saw Laramie Peak in a distance, we knew we had climbed over 2,000 feet out of the canyon bottom.

We had climbed up the wrong draw, night was coming, and we had no flashlights. It was cold enough that rattlesnakes were hibernating, but conditions were still adverse: it was dark, the terrain was steep and rocky, and the temperature was dropping at an alarming rate.

At the ages of ten and eleven, my younger brother and I learned young to how to get through adversity.

Here are 6 ways that will help you get through adversity as well:

1. Develop Confidence To Get Through Adversity

We were too young to rely on pep talks or motivational speeches to give us the stamina to keep moving forward. If we had climbed over 2,000 feet out of the canyon in daylight, we had to be confident enough in our ourselves that we could repeat our performance downhill in the darkness.

The lessons I learned getting down the mountain stayed with me the rest of my life. In my book Secrets of A Strong Mind, I talk about the four months I spent at the FBI Academy in new agent’s training. We trained hard day in and day out, no matter the weather conditions—in snow, wind, rain, or heat. We felt confident of our abilities because of our experiences.

Performing well when facing adversity gave us the self-assurance we could beat the odds. Whenever I thought I couldn’t push myself any further, I remembered that cold night climbing back down a mountain when I was eleven years old, and I was confident I had what it took to keep moving on.

2. Use Persistence To Get Through Adversity

My brother and I were not sure how to get back home before we found ourselves in complete darkness and freezing temperatures. We decided that if we stayed with the cow trail it would ultimately lead us to our destination. We lost the trail once and hopped over rocks and fallen trees to find it. While we knew that as long we were going downhill we were headed in the right direction, the draw had many smaller ones that meandered over the sides of the canyon. Time was important and we knew the quickest way down was the way we came up. We persisted and found the cow path again.

As an FBI agent, there were many times when I needed to remember that dedication and blind persistence are two different things. There are ways to work hard and not smart. If something doesn’t work, pivot and attack the problem from a different angle. Where there is a will, there is a way.

3. Manage Emotions To Get Through Adversity

While neither my brother or I panicked, we were scared—but we never let negativity set in. We acknowledged our fears but remained confident in our ability to get home safely.

I have drawn my weapon while making an arrest. I was scared and afraid of what I would need to do if the person resisted. When I leaned into my training, I regained my confidence and managed my emotions.

It’s always important to acknowledge emotions, but the key to getting through adversity is by reminding yourself that you can manage the negative reactions. You may not be able to change the conditions but you can change the way you deal with them. It’s possible to have self-control in an out-of-control environment.

4. Accept Blame To Get Through Adversity

We had no one to blame but ourselves. This was no game we were playing and we had to have the strength to look at our adversity realistically and take responsibility for getting ourselves back home. Our parents had no idea we had headed out to find the whiskey still because we hadn’t told them.

As an FBI agent, I found that self-examination would be one of the most important ways I could become a more effective leader who achieved my goals. When I confronted obstacles and adversity, I was not afraid to question my thinking. Often, this self-examination uncovered biases or assumptions I had made that either contributed to the obstacle or stood in my way of overcoming it. A merciless review of traits, desires, and fears can lead to a reinvention of goals and beliefs.

5. Pace Yourself To Get Through Adversity

My brother and I both knew that if we stopped, we’d freeze to death before morning. On the other hand, if we depleted our resources, we’d be unable to continue.

I learned the importance of pacing myself while running obstacle courses at the FBI Academy. I was not a strong runner, and while I was enthusiastic about charging out the gate, I knew I’d need to pace myself to last the entire obstacle course.

The same logic applied to my investigations: if I depleted my resources, ran myself to exhaustion, and then needed to respond to a fast-moving break in the case, I was in serious trouble. Read the chapter on the 20 mile march in Great by Choice by Jim Collins.

6. Create Community To Get Through Adversity

My brother and I were a team and we worked together to get back down the hill. We not only provided moral support for one another, but physical as well as we jumped across waterfalls and mucked through inches of mud to follow the meandering cow path.

The personal leadership skill of camaraderie is one of the first lessons taught at the FBI Academy. For the first three weeks, new agents are not allowed to leave the Marine Corp base. Instead, we were expected to develop a supportive community that would be needed during our four months of training.

The ability to relate to others was one of the most effective skills I developed in my career as a counterintelligence agent. Everyone has the need to be heard, and the need to listen for information that can be put into action. The listener is a essential role because even very successful leaders need people who are allied to their cause.

My brother and I made is safely home that night to parents who were very worried.

Learning how you can get through adversity will help you turn underachievement into superior achievement. As long as you can stay alive, you are still in the game.

© 2013 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter

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Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.”

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