3 Ways to Build and Keep Trust


The perfect storm of businesses I dealt with one day failed one after the next to keep their word. I had a flood in my house and needed a lot of venders to take care of things. There was a painter, a roofer, a tile man, a banker and the cable guy. Only one came through when and how he said he would; he felt like a soothing aloe on a wicked sunburn. He was Chris the roofer. I'll recommend him to everyone I know. To the rest, the lack of trust behaviors is expensive. If I could add up how many times, "I'm sorry" got flung about and then and illustrate how the phrase cost them through the loss of goodwill, business, or costs of their discounts to me, I'm sure those businesses would work very hard not to have to apologize so often. But, this isn't a blog to swipe at those who aggrieved me. It's about the observations of trust in action.

The formula for trust is simple, but not always easy to carry out. Here are the three main elements of trust.

1. Reliability/Accountability/Credibility.
These three interact to define the first attribute of trust. Are you doing what you said you would do and are you doing so consistently? Few things will have more impact in the entirety of your life than acting consistently with what you say you will do. The more consistent you are, the higher levels of trust you enjoy. When you say you'll do something, plain and simple, do it. If you can't, let the other party know. This includes closing the loop with others. We have all heard someone say something like, "I'll call you next week to let you know how we're going to proceed." The week comes and goes and either you have to chase the person down or they do call and they have to apologize for missing the deadline. Oops. Trust already violated. Ding made. It's now going to cost a few goodwill chits to make up the trust. Keep your word and when you can't tell me how and when you will.

2. Competence. This seems like a no-brainer, but often people miss both sides of the competence coin. You must be skilled and at least competent at what you do. That's expected. But, here's where many miss this part of the trust equation; how knowledgeable about what I do, on my life? Every one of the venders I mentioned above had been given due warning that I travel the majority of this month and that they couldn't miss the window of opportunity with me. But they ignored that and acted as if I could magically be available to conduct business even though they had specific information about my schedule. My reading of their competence is directly related to how well they know me and my comings and goings - even as an individual consumer. If you're a sales person selling to a business, you have to take it a step further and understand your product, and you must also understand my business and the pressures it is facing in the world, nearly as well as I do. Competence about your product AND my business are critical to the trust equation.

3. Benevolence. This one confuses the hard core business people I know, but skip this part of the equation at your own peril. You can be reliable. You can be competent, but if you don't have my best interests in mind, I likely will have a low trust level of you. The competent and on-time cable guy came to get my TV cable working again. From the moment he entered my home it felt as if the thing top-most on his mind was to get out. He did everything he could to be done quickly. He left, and not only was my TV not working, but then the internet was out. Aaaargh! I have very low trust for the cable company (don't most of us?!). The point is that when we conduct business, doing it with the client's best interest in mind is a HUGE trust builder. I love it when I go to a restaurant and the waiter tells me that the more expensive wine I've chosen is not nearly as good the one several dollars less expensive. When we are in service to others and it shows up, the trust levels go way up.

When we experience trust, we see it show up in the architecture of the brain that anticipates reward. That's a delicious feeling. When we experience distrust, we see it activate the areas of the brain that register disgust, intense negative emotion and the fear of loss. And here's the big take-away for me; you will feel the same feelings when you are being a trustworthy person.

You want your life and business to excel? Pay attention to the equation of trust.