Trust Factor: How to Build Trust with Others

Posted by on March 3, 2016

What do you consider when you think about someone you trust? How do they act? How do they communicate? What is it that makes you really trust them? There are elements of trust that can happen from a first impression—a gut feeling—and then there’s the trust that’s built over time and strengthens a relationship.

According to Bain & Company and its Net Promoter System, when customers trust a brand, 83 percent will recommend it, and 90 percent will return for repeat business. Plus, research from the Society of Human Resource Management links trust to higher employee engagement and retention.

We know trust is important and we want to build it with colleagues, customers, suppliers and stakeholders. But have you thought about how to make it happen? As you strive to build trust and be trustworthy, here are some common threads that have helped me build lasting relationships among employees, clients, the community and suppliers:

  1. Consistency: When someone says, “I know I can count on her,” it’s often based on consistent actions from that person. Consistency builds trust and gives others confidence that you will follow through. When your actions are unpredictable or inconsistent, colleagues may be reluctant to trust your ability to get the job done. This applies to customers as well—if they see inconsistencies in your delivery, they may not give you the big order or involve you in priority projects.
  2. Actions Matching Words: With the presidential primaries rhetoric flying, it’s a good time to think about how aligning what we do with what we say can inspire or erode trust. What I say is heard as a promise by my team and if my actions don’t deliver on that promise, I may inadvertently erode trust. You’ve heard the phrase “don’t over-promise and under-deliver,” and that’s what we do when we talk a good game but don’t follow through.
  3. Setting Expectations: Trust can be built when you help people understand what it takes to accomplish a certain task or goal. This applies internally to colleagues as well as with customers who have more confidence in the outcome if you tell them upfront what to expect on timing and process.
  4. Own Your Mistakes: I could also call this transparency. A true leader not only admits a mistake, but confronts it directly and quickly with a solution or at least a way to prevent it from happening again. Trust comes from open and honest communication, humility and the vulnerability to admit that you missed the mark.
  5. Listen Before You Solve: Often in business, you are called to have the right answers, influence a decision or get the job done. But trust is built in showing people that you care about what they have to say and are genuinely interested in what’s best versus having the quick answer or dominating the conversation.

Trust is foundational to business, so think about how the trust factor in your equation multiplies the length and quality of the relationships you’re building.

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