Be Healthy; Build Trust

lead with people present with people Sep 04, 2023
Shrimp on a Plane




Have you ever had a crazy moment happen to you on a flight?

We’ve all experienced different ranges of turbulence; we’ve had nice seatmates, rude seatmates, loud flights, quiet flights and everything in between.

One time while I was flying home from California, I experienced something that I have never experienced before and hopefully never will again.

The flight started like every other. I listened to the flight attendant go over the safety instructions. I’m not sure why, but this time I paid attention. This time was different. Maybe because I was squeezed in like a sardine and couldn't do anything else but pay attention.

When the flight attendant went over the instructions on the oxygen mask, even though I had heard it a hundred times, it hit me that they instructed us to put our oxygen mask on first, before helping others. I think it hit me this time because I was so crammed in that I highly doubted that I could even reach my oxygen mask! But, it wasn’t lost on me how important it was to put my mask on first and then to help others.

After take off, something happened to me that has never happened before in the history of my flying and I would go on record to say it has never happened to anyone.

The guy to my left took out his dinner from his backpack. His dinner was loose in a plastic grocery bag. That’s right, no packing whatsoever. What was his dinner you ask? This is where the story gets to be a little unbelievable and very painful.

His dinner was 20 cooked shrimp. That’s right. They weren’t on a plate or in a package, they were just thrown into the plastic bag.

Oh, the story gets better.

He put down his tray table, took out a container of sauce and then balanced the bag of shrimp on his stomach. He would take a shrimp out, dip it, eat it and then place the shrimp tail on the edge of his tray table. I am not kidding. His dining experience tested every bit of patience, kindness and healthy communication skills I possessed.

Because I was trapped, all I could do was count the shrimp tails on his tray table. One turned quickly into five and then before I knew it, there were fourteen shrimp tails carefully lining along the entire edge of the tray table.

The captain announced that we were going to fly into some rough weather and asked us to put up our tray tables and make sure our belts were fastened. My seatmate refused and he kept eating away.

Suddenly, we hit major turbulence and, I kid you not, every single shrimp tail jumped off the tray, into the air. It was like those little shrimps choreographed a giant movement together. All fourteen of those shrimp tails and the open sauce container flew everywhere. I had sauce and shrimp tails all over me, as well as many other passengers.

I can laugh about it now. But, during the turbulence, if I needed to help other people with their oxygen mask, Mr Shrimp Tails wouldn't have been high on my list.

Why? Because he prioritized himself and his comfort over the other people on the plane. Not only did his shrimp smell, but it was disgusting. Literally rows of people were agitated and were making comments out loud about how gross his choice was for dinner.

Thankfully I wasn’t one of the people making comments. Truthfully, I couldn’t because I was squeezed in so tight.




This story teaches a powerful communication lesson.

If you’re going to communicate in healthy ways, you have to be healthy. Inside and out. The healthier you are exponentially increases the odds that your communication will be healthy. So, that means you have to prioritize yourself first.

Now, our shrimp tails friend prioritized himself in the wrong way. He purely thought about his needs first and did not think about the comfort level of everyone around him. This is not what I’m encouraging you to do. Leaders are not purely focused on themselves for temporary gain and selfish pursuits.

As leaders, we want to get better so we can help others get better.

This is how we build trust while communicating.

Yes, telling stories, being vulnerable and coming prepared all have to happen. But, the primary way we build trust is by prioritizing our health and being a trustworthy communicator.

As a healthy communicator, you have to prioritize yourself. You have to put your mask on first if you’re going to help other people. This is of utmost importance. I know that seems counterintuitive with everything we’re taught.

In the world of effective communication, building trust with your audience is paramount. Whether you're a motivational speaker, a business leader, a teacher, or even a content creator, the foundation of a meaningful connection lies in the establishment of trust.

Trust is the cornerstone upon which strong relationships are built, and the dynamic between a speaker and their audience is no exception. When you're a speaker, your audience looks to you for guidance, knowledge, and inspiration. They're investing their time and attention in your words, and it's your responsibility to ensure that your message resonates with authenticity and reliability.

As the old saying goes, "Trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair."

Consistency is key to building trust over time. When your audience sees that you're consistently present and delivering valuable content, their trust in you grows. Taking care of your well-being ensures that you can maintain this level of consistency. Burnout or health-related interruptions can disrupt your communication schedule, potentially damaging the trust you've worked hard to establish.

Life is filled with challenges, and how you handle them can significantly impact your audience's perception of you. When you're in good health, you're better equipped to navigate challenges with grace and resilience. Whether it's addressing difficult questions or handling unexpected situations during a presentation, your ability to remain composed and professional will contribute to the trust your audience has in your expertise.

Therefore, for any communicator, it's crucial to not only focus on honing your speaking skills but also nurturing your own well-being.




Trust is often forged through authenticity. When you're healthy, you're more likely to be yourself – confident, genuine, and unafraid to show vulnerability. This authenticity creates a bridge between you and your audience, enabling them to relate to you on a personal level. Remember, your audience can sense when you're not being genuine, and this can erode their trust in your message.

Your well-being directly impacts your ability to connect with your audience.

Here are a few areas to develop your well-being so that you can elevate the level of trust with your audience.

Physical: As a communicator, your energy is contagious. Your passion is attractive. A healthy body and mind contribute to higher levels of energy, enthusiasm, and engagement. When you're passionate about what you're saying, your audience is more likely to feel the same way. Conversely, if you're tired, your lack of energy can lead to disinterest among your listeners. Prioritizing your well-being ensures that you maintain the enthusiasm needed to capture and hold your audience's attention.

Mental: Imagine a scenario where a speaker walks on stage, visibly stressed, lacking confidence and struggling to maintain composure.  If you're not taking care of your health, it can lead to stress, anxiety, and even a sense of disconnect. This can affect the audience's perception of the speaker and makes it much harder to effectively communicate and establish trust.

Now, imagine a speaker whose ego is inflated, and wants to prove how amazing they are by using complex language and a vocabulary you’re not familiar with. This alienates your audience. Avoid using jargon and remember that your goal is to make your content accessible to everyone. When your audience understands you, they're more likely to trust you.

Emotional: Emotionally connecting with your audience is a powerful way to build trust. When you're in good health, your emotional state is more balanced, allowing you to tap into a wider range of feelings. This emotional resonance helps your audience connect with you on a deeper level. On the flip side, if you're struggling with your own emotional well-being, it can hinder your ability to empathize and connect with your listeners.

The path to becoming a trusted communicator involves more than just mastering public speaking techniques. Yes, those are important, but your well-being plays an indispensable role in building and maintaining that trust. Prioritizing your health allows you to authentically connect with your audience, maintain energy and engagement, resonate emotionally, demonstrate consistency, and handle challenges gracefully.

As you embark on your journey to becoming a more effective and healthy communicator, remember that your own well-being is not a separate entity from your professional persona. It's an essential aspect that directly influences the trust you build with your audience.

So, take care of yourself – physically, mentally, and emotionally – and watch as your ability to connect and influence others grows stronger, making you a truly impactful communicator.

And, please promise me that you won’t eat shrimp on your next flight!


By Jason Raitz - President, Speak with People

Jason has a huge passion for communication and for helping other leaders. He also loves to tell stories, make people laugh and dreams of being a comedian someday.