When it comes to relationships, trust is no different from the ability to light a fire. It's impossible to survive in the wild without fire, and it's impossible to build relationships without trust. Therefore, whenever we build trust with a client or colleague, we should celebrate like Tom Hanks in Castaway.
Once we establish trust, we have to take care of it because it can erode quickly. In this article, we are going to discuss how to build trust to improve your relationships. We will start with a trust framework, and then we will discuss practical strategies for building trust.
1. Trust framework: In the book The Trusted Advisor by David Maister, Charles Green, and Robert Walford, the authors provide an excellent framework for building trust. See the formula below.
Let's take a moment to explore the mathematical impact of adding one to each variable. Let's say we start with a trust score of 15. If we add 1 to the numerator, then we have 16. On the other hand, if we add 1 to the denominator, we would get 7.5. What is the takeaway? Self-interest is in the denominator because it's the most significant factor that will destroy or build trust. If you think about it, it makes complete sense. Imagine working for someone who takes credit for your work or working for someone who only cares about themselves. You wouldn't trust that person very much.
2. Practical strategies to build trust
What can you do to increase credibility?
- Obtain additional training or education
- Speak with confidence
- Share your experience
- Develop subject matter expertise
- Ask thoughtful questions.
One unique idea for building credibility is to find a client who can vouch for you or would be willing to speak to their experience working with you to other prospects or clients. Therefore, you have someone else to build your credibility for you.
What can you do to increase reliability?
- Be responsive
- Be punctual
- Be fully present in meetings
- Limit your phone use and focus on others
- Follow through on your word Admit when you are wrong
One unique idea for building reliability is to set expectations high and surpass them. Most people set expectations low, but it is rare that people set high and exceed them. For example, you can tell your clients you will respond within 24 hours except when on vacation, setting expectations high. If you follow through, you will stand out and build trust. It takes courage to set expectations high and live up to them.
What can we do to increase intimacy?
- Get to know someone personally and professionally
- Actively listen
- Be non-judgmental
- Provide honest feedback
- Reveal something personal.
One unique idea for building intimacy is to invite clients to unique events. Most salespeople invite clients to cliche events such as dinner, drinks, or sporting events, which are forgettable. On the other hand, unique events show you are thoughtful, creative, courageous, and they may create a space where you can speak more openly with your clients. A unique event could include a play, charity events, family-friendly events, tv recordings, exercise classes, magic shows, cooking classes, comedy, or other novel ideas. Ask your colleagues for unique event ideas and you might be pleasantly surprised what is possible.
What can you do to decrease self-interest?
- Be more of a giver than a taker
- Listen to understand instead of listening to respond
- Show interest in the other person
- Be curious
- Prepare for meetings
- Ask more questions
- Put yourself in the other person's shoes
One unique idea for decreasing self-interest is turning down business. Imagine if a salesperson said, "I appreciate you asking, but we are not the best at that. However, I know a fantastic company. I can facilitate an introduction." The buyer would immediately gain your trust.
I encourage you to take a moment and think about what you can do to build trust in your personal or professional relationships. Go out there and try something new because trust is just as important as fire!