TRUST – a simple word that is far more complex, and to understand how to gain another’s trust, one must work for it. All too often, in business relationships – amongst employees, or employers and employees or even amongst clients and their service providers – it’s believed that trust should be handed over, simply because we co-exist. That’s simply not the case, and never will be.
I’ve had leaders tell me that employees must trust them implicitly. And when I question them as to why they think so, I’m told: “we gave them a job, a salary, benefits, a great working environment”. Similar statements have been made to me by companies working together (on a project, or a deal), that they went into this venture together and therefore the other party should simply trust them. I am always disheartened with such responses. And I have a news flash for leaders and organizations: That’s not enough for them to trust you!!
We’ve all heard the words: “trust must be earned”. While that’s true, no one ever tells you HOW to earn trust. No one explains the process of doing so.
So, how do you earn one’s trust?
Step 1: I listen to understand
We tend to jump to conclusions, we draw up our own requirements for people. Rather than listening intently to the other individual in order to better understand them, we weave our life’s autobiography into what they’re saying and determine the best way forward. This does not build trust, and certainly does not earn us the other person’s trust. We must listen to what one is saying, and do so with the desire to understand them further (more about listening and the 5 levels of listening will be discussed in a future article).
Practice active and even empathetic listening with others. This is the foundation of earning their trust.
Step 2: I understand your needs/goals
Whether we like to admit it or not, everyone has a selfish trait. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just the way we operate as humans. We have goals, dreams, desires, objectives and much more, that we want to see achieved. These could be business related such as your Key Performance Indicators or your business targets, or even a project’s desired outcome. And they could be far more complex and personal, with you wanting to get a certain degree, buying a home or in search for a life partner. No matter what your goals are, if we co-exist in a relationship (and by definition, all business interactions form a relationship), then we must understand the other person’s needs/goals in order to build trust. An act of selflessness is required when engaging another person, if you expect to build trust.
Make the effort to understand other people’s needs/goals and for a moment, putting those needs ahead of your own (just for a moment).
Step 3: I want to help you achieve your needs/goals
When your aim is to build trust with another individual or organization, you must show them that you want to help. We are not yet at the stage of actually helping them, but rather the intent of doing so. Our words and other aspects send a signal to the other person that I’ve listened to understand, I now have a better grasp of your goals, and I want to help you achieve them. It is at this step that a trusting relationship begins to form. This is alignment. This is where we engage at a new level with an individual or organization. As a leader, business partner, colleague or service provider, be sure to align yourself with the other’s needs/goals.
Explain to people that you want to help them on their journey, that your role is to help them achieve their goals…this will positively your relationship!
Step 4: I am on your side
As much as we talk about wanting to be there for others, the old adage rings true: Actions speak louder than words! Simply telling people that you want to help them, while a positive step, is not enough. We need to take action. We need to prove to them that we are there for them, to help them grow, achieve, rise, etc. We have to take the required actions that prove to the other: I’m on your side. This does not mean that you put the other party’s needs/goals ahead of your own, seeing as that’s almost impossible in most relationships, especially business ones, but it means doing what’s necessary to support the other.
Take action! Show others that you are on their side by being there for them and doing what’s necessary to assist them on their journey.
Step 5: You can trust me
The fifth and final steps comes from the results of the prior 4 steps. It’s that moment when we’ve proven to the other person that we’ve listened to understand, we’ve understood their needs/goals, we wanted to help them achieve those needs, and we’ve shown them that we’re on their side. This step, allows us say: “trust me”, and know that the statement will not be received with any doubt or trepidation. That the person or organization we’re saying it to knows it’s absolutely true, and cannot be questioned.
Do not assume that people should trust you because of your position, your power or your success. Trust is indeed earned and you can build your way to a trusting relationship…step by step!