How to build trust

  • September 25, 2019
  • John Barclay
child with building blocks

How to build trust? There were 8 traits that were common to the most trusted leaders, brands, and organisations of all time, even governments, 8 commonalities.

The eight pillars of trust:

1.           Clarity

People trust the clear, and they mistrust or distrust the ambiguous. A leader that’s clear about the vision, we tend to get behind. Elections have been won, on this pillar, by a worst candidate, who was clearer. A salesperson that’s clear about the benefits of that product, we tend to buy from. The professor, that’s not clear about the assignment, students get frustrated with.

2.           Consistency

People trust those who are the same every single time. Take the example of McDonald’s. It is the same consistent food all over the world. If you go to McDonald’s restaurants all over the world, the food always tastes the same. The only way to build a brand, or to build a reputation, is consistency.

3.           Compassion

People trust those that think beyond themselves. People who are willing to step outside of their own needs and look to the needs of those around them. Genuine CARE turns team members and clients into friends and results in loyalty and satisfaction, both within and outside of companies.

4.           Character

Character is a cross between moral character and integrity. Integrity is being the same in thoughts, words, and actions on one hand and on the other you’ve to pair that with a moral responsibility.

Research shows, the people who best exemplified this pillar all had one thing in common: they did what needed to be done when it needed to be done, whether they felt like it or not.

5.           Contribution

People trust results, which means you always need to deliver on your promises. To be a contributor, you need to make daily goals that are clear, realistic and consistent with your main vision. It also needs to be quantifiable, specific, measurable and time dated. You should easily be able to tell whether you met them. Finally, you should reward results.

Contributors make good things happen and give valuable outcomes.

6.           Competency

You might have great character and you might have great compassion, but people won’t trust you to give them a root canal treatment unless you’re competent at that. People trust a person that stays fresh, relevant and capable in the area they want to be trusted in. Competency starts with humility; knowing I don’t know it all. From that starting point, you build up your knowledge.

7.           Connection

You need to develop the ability to connect and collaborate with all those people that think beyond themselves. People who work together get even more done, if they’re not just totally independent and not codependent but interdependent. They are always the best performing teams, with the best outcome for the greater good for all.

8.           Commitment

Commitment starts with each of us. If something went wrong, it might need to start with a sincere apology but that’s not most important. If you want to build or rebuild trust you need to make and keep a commitment. If you start with it first, you will see that others follow because commitment breeds commitment.

Trust is a choice.

Every single time you choose it or choose against it, it has benefits or consequences. Imagine what would happen, if you could be that person, that was trusted by everybody, every time. Yet what do we know? Organizations don’t get better; countries don’t get better. Individuals get better. But when one person becomes more trustworthy, then a family, a community, a country can get better.

But what if trust is broken? What if your CEO is caught on video, disparaging an employee? What if your employees experience a culture of bias, exclusion and worse? What if there’s a data breach, and it feels an awful lot like a cover-up than seriously addressing it? And most tragically, what if a technological fail leads to the loss of human life?

If we’re going to rebuild trust, we must understand its component parts.

There are three things about trust.

If you sense that the person is being authentic, you are much more likely to trust that person. If you sense that someone has real rigor in their logic, you are far more likely to trust that person. And if you believe that a person’s empathy is directed towards you, you are far more likely to trust them. When all three of these things are working, we have great trust.

The most common problem is empathy. People just don’t believe that we’re mostly in it for them. They believe that we’re too self-distracted. And it’s no wonder. We are all so busy, with so many demands on our time. If we have too much to do, we may not have that time. But that puts us into a vicious cycle because without revealing empathy, it makes everything harder.

Here’s the solution: identify where, when and to whom you are likely to offer your distraction. That should trace to when, where and to whom you are likely to withhold your empathy. We can come up with a trigger that gets us to look up, look at the people right in front of us, listen to them and deeply immerse ourselves in their perspectives. Then we have a chance of showing true empathy.

Logic problems can come in two forms. It’s either the quality of your logic or it’s your ability to communicate the logic. Often it’s the second case. What is the problem? Is our ability to communicate the logic that is in jeopardy? Fortunately, there’s an easy fix to this. If we consider that there are two ways to communicate in the world:

  • The first one is when you take us on a journey. A magnificent journey that has twists and turns and mystery and drama. Until you ultimately get to the point. Some of the best communicators in the world communicate just like this. It is called storytelling.
  • The second is to share your ideas with others and let them be part of it. Start with your point and include others to finish the idea. That gives all a sense of being part of it and yet it is still your idea because you started the process.

Authenticity is the most vexing issue.

We as a human species can detect in a moment, whether someone is being their authentic, true self. So, in many ways, the prescription is clear. Be you! If we hold back who we are, we’re less likely to be trusted.

Leaders have the obligation to set the conditions that make it safe for us to be authentic, which is the key for everyone achieving greater excellence.

Finally, we should not forget as humans we need to interact with each other face to face. What we need is more human interaction, something that requires a handshake. Imagine that you want to do business with somebody just by a simple handshake. If they refuse to shake your hand, even if rationally speaking they’ve agreed to everything, the odds are you won’t do business with them.

This is what trust is, trust is human. It’s about human interaction, it’s about real conversations. What we need are more handshake conversations. What we need is more handshake discussion, more handshake debate, more handshake friends, more handshake leadership. If we don’t then we will not find our own sense of fulfillment and happiness and inspiration.

Credit to Anne Boeckler Raettig, David Horsager, Frances Frei, Simon Sinek, and James Davis