Three great ways to build trust with your Personal Assistant

You’ve learnt about the importance of defining the relationship you would like with your Personal Assistant (PA). The next step is making sure you build a great relationship with them and that takes trust.

Trust is the foundation in which relationships are built upon but it takes time to develop.  You want to create a trusting environment with your Personal Assistant so you have a strong foundation in which it successfully overcome any challenges with your relationship.

Why you need to trust

For you to have any relationship with your Personal Assistant, you need to believe that they have your best interests at heart. 

They will supporting you in a personal and sometimes intimate capacity and it’s important you are both comfortable and confident you can work together. They will have access to your home, your bank account, passwords even and trust is essential for you to feel safe.

Trust can take time to build though, so there is no expectation for this to be present within the first five minutes of them starting with you.

Maybe you are a cautious person so you would need to see how your Personal Assistant completes tasks for you as a way of earning your trust.  Or you might trust to start off with but have certain expectations that you need to see fulfilled before you can trust them fully.

But there is more to trust than just trusting someone to do something for you.  Trust is also about safety.  Feeling safe and confident that you are working with someone who can and will make your life easier.

So how do you go about building trust into the relationship with your Personal Assistant?

3 great ways to build trust with your Personal Assistant:

Three great ways to build trust

Be open

Your Personal Assistant will take their cue from you.  The more open you are to share information, to illicit feedback and their opinion on things, they more open they are likely to be with you.

The ability to have an open relationship is helpful for when there are issues.  If you can both talk about what’s bothering you, without fear of reprisal or that you have done something wrong, this can build trust in your relationship.

But openness is not just about saying your open. It comes from your actions.  If you cannot remember a time when your Personal Assistant has challenged you or come to you with suggestions about improvements or problems, it is likely you don’t have as open a relationship as you think you do.

Set boundaries

A boundary is a space between you and your Personal Assistant; a clear space where you begin and they end.  And the purpose of setting boundaries is to protect you. Boundaries are just as important for you as they are for your Personal Assistant.

Boundaries are important for our general well-being.  They can protect us from burnout or stress.  In fact having a lack of boundaries or feeling like they have encroached our boundaries can make us feel angry and resentful.  Neither are emotions that you or your Personal Assistant want to feel.

So how can you set the right boundaries?

You might keep your personal life separate by not discussing it with your Personal Assistant.  Or be open about subjects you’re not comfortable to hear them talk about for example.

When you spend a lot of time around each other, you can easily forget that you are the employer and they are your employee.  You may over share information or talk about topics that are better off left for discussion with your close friends. 

Maybe you tell your Personal Assistant that although they work for you, they are not responsible for every single aspect of your life including when things happen outside of their control.  Sometimes people need to hear this to relieve themselves of any stress and anxiety if something goes wrong.

Another aspect of setting boundaries is not over explaining.  We all have the right to decide what we will and will not do.  However to do this in the right way, keep the focus on you.

For instance, instead of telling them that you would prefer that they didn’t watch TV with you instead tell them you need time to yourself and you find being alone with the TV helps relax you. 

By setting these boundaries up front, you are working towards creating an emotional safe environment for you and your Personal Assistant.

Listen

It sounds so simple.  You listen to your Personal Assistant.  You pay attention when they tell you they are uncomfortable doing a task or they have something on their mind.  Of course you listen…or do you?

Great relationships can only develop if you feel listened to you.  That you have a voice and your opinions are respected.  However, without realising it, we can make listening mistakes:

  • Thinking about something else when someone is talking
  • Not making appropriate signals to show you’re listening – this can be anything from blinking to a hand or a head gesture.
  • Preparing what you’re going to say next
  • Judging with the person is saying, so in this case you are already showing your aren’t open to what they are saying to you

When you are listening, you want to show that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say.  I remember having a one to one with my line manager years ago.  He had his phone in his hand and was reading his emails. Without looking up, he told me I could start talking, and he was listening, just multi-tasking.  Whether that was true, I can tell you I didn’t feel listened to, or that he valued what I had to say.  It’s not a great feeling, and this is not something you want your Personal Assistant to feel. 

“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.”


Roy T. Bennett

To conclude, trust takes time and patience.  But, you don’t have to wait for it to magically unfold.  Being open, setting boundaries and really listening to your Personal Assistant will provide a firm foundation for you to build a great working relationship.

Think about these three factors I’ve talked about.  If you were to give yourself a score out of ten as to how well you practice each of these, what would you give yourself?

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