A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other. – Simon Sinek
Have you ever failed to build trust with another person?
I certainly did.
While in some situations that makes literally zero difference, in other situations that becomes a massive problem. Here are 3 examples: (1) Your spouse’s parents – they won’t support your relationship (2) Potential customers – they won’t buy from you (3) Your boss – s/he won’t work well with you.
We’ve already built a good amount of trust with the people surrounding us, but whenever we meet new people whether in a new city, a new job, a new relationship, or a new hobby, the game starts again.
Particularly in the context of our professional life, we regularly meet new people with whom we have to work together. Failing to build trust then makes easy things hard and hard things literally impossible.
I learned the hard way what it means to not have the trust of others. It’s a terrible feeling. Even though people might have listened to what I said, they couldn’t care less. No matter how good my intentions or how much effort I spent to make things work, people didn’t care.
But what does it actually mean to have the trust of others? And what can we do to better instill it? That’s what today’s blog article will be about.
- A model to make the concept of trust more accessible is to differentiate between (A) practical and (B) emotional trust
- People have practical trust in us when our words translate into action
- Emotional trust is subtle and comes down to 3 factors: Empathy, sound logic, and authenticity
- Rather do 3 things good than do 3 things of which you do 2 things very good and 1 thing you fail to do
- Make people feel understood by listening to people so that they feel heard
- Make use of the pyramid principle and always state the main takeaway first and then explain all the surrounding information
- Appreciate all the things that make you different and focus on expressing them
What trust really means
What does it mean to have trust from other people?
They have a sense of security and confidence when dealing with you. They feel that they can depend on you. And they portray you as credible.
And what does it look like to not have trust from other people?
They won’t listen to you. Neither at work nor privately, they want to spend time with you. They feel a sense of apathy or even anxiety when dealing with you.
In your private life that could mean not being invited to certain events of friends or family. In your professional life that could mean being passed over for promotions in favor of someone more trustworthy.
Practical vs. emptional trust
A model to make the concept of trust more accessible is to differentiate between (A) practical and (B) emotional trust.
(A) Practical trust usually first comes to our minds when we think about how to trust someone. People have practical trust in us when our words translate into action. It’s when we show up on time, get our work done, meet deadlines, or really help someone when we offered to do so. Essentially, practical trust emerges when expectations are met.
(B) Emotional trust is subtle and comes down to 3 factors:
(1) Empathy: We make people feel understood and heard when we interact with them.
(2) Logic: What we communicate is sound in basic logic and how we communicate is logical.
(3) Authenticity: We don’t fake who we are and what we stand for (people smell inauthenticity from miles away).
How trust is built
Trust is built slowly, through repeated interactions that take place over a long period of time. Yet, it can be destroyed in a matter of seconds.
First and foremost, consistency is key. We may never disappoint others. (A) Practical trust is the very basis for building trust.
One of my project managers once said to me that it’s much better to do 3 things good than to do 3 things of which you do 2 things very good and 1 thing you fail to do. Setting realistic expectations and meeting them is crucial, no matter the context or relationship.
Achieving emotional trust comes down to developing “emotional intelligence” and a few other skills, such as communication skills. For instance, (1) to make people feel understood, we have to learn to listen to people so that they feel heard. We can do this by asking the right questions, listening without distractions by putting away our smartphones, and addressing concerns. (2) To make our communication logical, we can make use of the pyramid principle and always state the main takeaway first and then explain all the surrounding information. (3) To be authentic, we need to appreciate all the things that make us different and focus on expressing ourselves.
I currently focus on 3 topics to better build trust with others:
First, I want to make others feel I really care. Whether I talk to clients, colleagues, friends, family, or my girlfriend, I’ll provide them with my full attention, don’t assume but ask if something is not clear to me, and address their concerns.
Second, I want to further improve the way I communicate. While my communication is already structured and sound in logic, it still lacks clarity and concision. I still catch from time to time how I first talk about all the supporting arguments before the main conclusion instead of making use of the pyramid principle.
Third, I want to increase the degree of authenticity in my professional life. Concretely, I want to express my positivity and thirst for curiosity stronger. As I become more experienced in managing client relationships, I better learn what’s really important. While maintaining a certain professional standard is key, particularly at the beginning of a new relationship, I’m confident that a higher degree of authenticity regarding these two characteristics will benefit my relationship with clients.