The Trust Factor: Using Ovation to Build Stronger Teams

My husband and I were having a conversation just a few days ago, and I asked him if he would write out our conversation for a blog I am now creating. Here is that conversation…

Recently Singer Jason Derulo left a waiter a $5k tip; this very generous gesture went viral when it became public.  The waiter who received the tip, said this single gesture would cover his next semester of college.  Crazy how a simple gesture can have such an impact on someone else.

Now most of us aren’t in a financial position to leave thousand-dollar tips, but there are other things we can do.  Here’s one example;  Many moons ago, I served in the military and married my bride about a year into my enlistment.  Having lived the military life for a few years, my wife and I still hold our military members in very high regard. 

I can’t recall exactly when we started doing this, but several years ago, we started taking care of drinks and or meals for military members when we saw them at a bar or restaurant.

Typically, we simply pay for the meals/drinks without being identified.  I know this simple gesture makes us (my bride and I) feel good, but I imagine it is very much appreciated by military families on the receiving end.  I can recall being in the Nashville area on a business trip with my wife a few years ago.  One morning, I told my wife there was a new breakfast spot I wanted to try.  California has Denny’s, and just about everywhere else has The Waffle House, guess where we went!

Apparently, I wasn’t the only person with this idea because the line wrapped out the doors.  I mean the food has to be great if the line is that long, right?  While waiting in line, being the introvert that I am (Not), I struck up a conversation with a young couple standing behind us in line. 

Now let me backtrack just a bit, the young couple standing behind us were dressed in civilian clothing, but it was obvious he was in the military.  His haircut, stance, and a few other indicators was all I needed to see.  However, when I asked him what branch he was in, my wife looked in amazement on how I could tell he was military.

After talking with them for a few minutes, we quickly learned they were out for a special breakfast because he was about to be deployed for a second tour in a desert area they couldn’t discuss.  Just talking about the upcoming deployment brought tears to the young wife’s eyes.  It was at this time in our conversation we learned she was expecting their first child who was going to be born while he was on deployment.  I’m pretty sure it about this time my bride’s eyes got a little damp as well.

We ultimately left them with handshakes and hugs and were seated to different tables in the restaurant.  As soon as we were seated, my wife and I realized that young couple was us 20 years earlier. When the check came, we took care of the young couples as well.

I think the point of this narrative is that a simple gesture can have a significant impact. Buy a cup of coffee for the person behind you, maybe their day started off crummy and that cup may just turn it around. Give when you can, it will make you feel good, trust me.

This gesture of giving can be referred to as an ovation. In Paul Zak’s book, The Trust Factor he shares that ovation is recognizing someone for going above and beyond and when they do not expect it. As a result of ovation, it creates oxytocin, a good hormone being produced in a person’s body. This hormone is he hormone that creates a strong mother-child bond at childbirth and can create strong bonds between team members as well.

Ovation does not happen when people expect some type of recognition, like a quarterly sales bonus. Ovation MUST occur when someone least expects it. Ovation does not need to be monetary, either. Our world today is driven by technology: emails, texts, and instant messaging like Slack, and others. I would recommend writing someone a handwritten note and snail mail the letter. That note may just be kept in someone’s desk drawer and when they are feeling down that little note might just provide a ray of sunshine that someone needs.

If you’d like to go deeper on this topic, we do provide a workshop specifically built to increase trust and rapport at the team and organizational level. Reach out to us at to learn more. We would love to be your guide in this endeavor.

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