Building trust in business is everything, but how do you do it?
Here’s a starting point.
Can you recall a moment where someone you didn’t know well demonstrated real trust – in a risk situation? What happened next?
In little time strong bonds may have developed, sometimes at surprising speed. And the relationship changes for the better.
The same is possible in the workplace, although the ‘risk’ catalyst is less commonplace (hence the need for Outward Bound courses).
Trust builds business. Whilst invisible, trust is the foundation of everything. It the cement, the water and grains of sand combined that when mixed properly holds agreement and understanding firm.
So what is the chemistry, what forces are at play? More importantly for you, when you understand the forces, how can you apply the principles of trust so trust builds your business?
Hitchhiking is all about trust
Hitchhikers constantly seek one person who will trust them.
Yet I remember countless drivers passing one autumn afternoon as I grew increasingly desperate in the fading light for a lift that would get me to Junction 26 of the M1, about 30 miles north of where I stood.
Rejection followed rejection on that slip road.
But eventually a car did stop.
Being a young 17 year-old, I naively (but eagerly) held out my last £1 ‘note’ (remember them!) to the smartly dressed driver. I was so grateful.
Older and wiser, my new companion waved my offer away and moved his newspaper from the passenger seat.
In little time we were engrossed in conversation about his life. The motorway miles fell away.
Reciprocation builds trust
Arriving at my destination (junction 26) ‘my driver’ failed to stop.
Instead he asked me where I lived in Nottingham. He then generously proceeded to drive five miles out of his way to my parent’s home. He didn’t ask how far I lived from the M1 and made no fuss about his kindness. The gratitude I felt was immense.
And in that extra time he shared in detail the sad news of his wife’s recent passing and how being alone had affected his life. Countless long, lonely and sleepless nights consumed him. But he wasn’t selfish nor mournful.
Thankfully his sleepless nights were silver-lined. Ultimately, time spent reading through the dark hours led him to a magazine article about the national ‘Driver of the Year’ competition. On a whim, he had decided to enter.
“And would you believe it?” he told me “I became the Veteran Driver of the Year“.
When we said our goodbyes we were like best of friends.
Trust underpins great relationships
Critical to that meeting of minds and the pace at which the relationship grew was the issue of trust. And underpinning the trust between us was a desire to give back to the other because we both appreciated and valued what was offered and wished to reciprocate (yet no money changed hands).
I needed a lift. He picked me up. He drove. I asked questions. He talked. He shared deep thoughts. He went out of his way. We both felt elated.
And I will never forget the experience nor his kindness.
In his excellent book ‘Influence: Science & Practice’, the author Robert Cialdini writes eloquently about the power of ‘Reciprocation’ and ‘Liking’ as highly influential forces. Giving first has powerful consequences but the potential value of such a gift only becomes fully apparent if the receiver really trusts you.
Speed of Trust
More recently, Stephen Covey has written ‘The Speed of Trust’ which is a ground-breaking piece of work.
The author contends that Trust is at the heart of everything we do and once it is present, individuals and teams can achieve great things – very quickly (Covey refers to this as trust dividends). The opposite is true when there is a breakdown of trust (Covey refers to this as a trust tax).
Early on in his book, Covey even provides mathematical equations to demonstrate why trust can be gained at speed (as per the hitchhiking example). But he also explains in detail how and why our behaviour can destroy relationships faster than they were built.
Understanding these principles is particularly important for those seeking to be effective salespeople.
Trust builds business
Entrepreneurs who typically find greatest success are very good at building strong long-term relationships with many people. The glue that binds them together is the trust that they will behave consistently, congruently and reliably – in other words customers know they will be provided with great service or products on-time and every time.
As an issue, ‘Trust’ sounds simple, yet making it really work for you is more complex. But if you thumb through the pages of ‘The Speed of Trust’ and apply the recommendations Covey makes, I am certain you will get to where you want to be with your own project or business sooner than you think.
And if you want to explore how trust builds business and see how the power of trust works within an organisation, I recommend you see this short film interview with a business owner – all work by the iconic and entrepreneurial film-maker Nic Askew.
Key Learning Points: Trust builds business and relationships. Trust is therefore at the heart of all the work we do. Understanding the key theoretical & practical principles that underpin this subject will accelerate you along your entrepreneurial journey.
For more on Trust and growing a new entrepreneurial business, take a look at the post about Trust Ladders.