“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” — Ernest Hemingway
Trust is the cornerstone of every relationship. Without trust, there’s little confidence to be had, which stifles growth. With most people, it can take time to build this foundation. Maurice Schweitzer, the author of Friend & Foe, describes a formula to build trust quickly. Psychologists have used this method to encourage relationships with patients.
Here’s what he recommends:
Tell them you know your stuff
1. Establish competence. Doctors hang their diplomas on the wall to demonstrate their credibility. In business, it’s important to speak in the industry jargon or let the other person know your background and experience. Just come right out and tell them.
Help them relax
2. Put the person at ease. When people relax, they tend to share more personal information. You need to break the ice. This might be called small talk, and it revolves around sports or something in the community. Don’t just jump right into business, but give the other person time to engage with you.
Get on their level
3. Don’t make your status part of the equation. You may want to meet on neutral territory the first time you get together. This puts you on a level playing field, instead of having one person behind the desk in a bigger chair. To make yourself approachable, you may need to take off your suit jacket and tie to make you appear less intimidating.
4. Demonstrate vulnerability. The age-old methods of appearing fallible are things like spilling a cup of coffee or telling an embarrassing story. This makes you seem more human and can change the relationship’s dynamics. However, make sure that you’ve established your credibility before doing one of these things. You don’t want to come off as a simpleton before showing what you can do.
Most importantly: deliver
Trust is not perfection, it’s delivering on your promises.
In business, clients and customers want to know that you will live up to your commitments. Using this formula may get you in the door, but the relationship won’t last unless you have the character to maintain it.