Without trust, you don’t develop authentic relationships and business doesn’t prosper. This simple truth applies whether you are building relationships with your customers, stakeholders, investors, employees, suppliers, community partners or anybody that is affiliated with your organization or to whom you are associated.
What does trust really mean?
Trust is a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. Trust, much like respect is something to be earned, through the display of actions and behaviours that are indicative of trustworthiness.
The reality is that people do business with people they trust.
Why? Because we want to feel that our best interests are being represented.
Employees want to work for companies they trust.
Why? Because we want to feel safe, secure and cared about in our job.
People want to partner with others they trust.
Why? Because we want to ensure our values and interests are aligned.
Consumers want to buy from companies they trust.
Why? Because we want to support the companies that best meet and fulfill our needs.
Trust is a little word that has big meaning and HUGE impact. It’s the one little word that if ignored, could be the pinprick that pops your balloon, metaphorically speaking. (note: this applies to your personal relationships too!)
Funny how trust works. Once you behave, speak or project yourself in a way that makes the other party question your trustworthiness, they are more likely to walk away without saying anything, never to return, engage or pursue, rather than actually confront you about it. Why? Because either you can be trusted, or you can’t. There is no in between. Once somebody has evaluated you as ‘untrustworthy’ you almost always can’t claw back from that. And if you’re not trustworthy, there are plenty of other people who are.
So, if you want to be outstanding at what you do, be a world-class professional, build a rock solid reputation, and create a successful business, it’s time to turn the mirror on yourself and evaluate how well you’re doing in the trust department.
Here are my Top 5 Tips for becoming trust-worthy in your business (and your life).
- Follow through and follow up. Do what you say you’re going to do. Keep your word and for Pete’s sake don’t make excuses. Excuses are simply a way to avoid responsibility. When your words don’t match your actions people lose confidence in you, which is a surefire way to erode trust.
- Boundaries. Be clear about personal and professional boundaries – yours and other people’s – and don’t cross them. This requires a certain level of personal reflection on how you are putting yourself out into the world and whether what and how you do, say and act is appropriate in each situation.
- Respect. Be aware and respectful of other people. Each of us has the sovereign right to think, act and behave the way we choose. Keep the interactions clean – passive-aggressive tendencies, manipulative and abusive behaviour is not the way to ‘win friends and influence people’.
- Don’t assume anything. All of us view the world from our own perspective and through our particular lens. Don’t assume that you are on the same page with someone until you know for a fact that you are. Assumptions lead to unfulfilled expectations, which in turn lead to disappointment and an erosion of trust.
- Truth and authenticity. This should be a no-brainer, but unfortunately it’s not. Be truthful and authentic in your words, actions and behaviours. You are only fooling yourself if you are not doing this because people’s intuition will sense into your lack of authenticity before you even open your mouth. Don’t underestimate the fact that people generally have a very perceptive bullshit meter.
Business is built on relationships; relationships are built on trust, it’s as simple as that.
I would love to hear about some of the things you’ve experienced in your professional life that have eroded your level in trust with somebody. Based on your experience, do you have any stories to share about ‘what not to do’? Please share your comments below!