OPINION: Can you make people trust you?

Robert Labayen -- ExecuTips

Posted at Jul 10 2018 07:28 PM

Without trust, nothing gets done.

You can’t make your staff do things when you’re not looking, people will not buy your products, you cannot try out new things. Earning and keeping people’s trust is one of the most important things a person or a company must ensure.

Prof. David DeSteno is the director of the Social Emotions Research Group at the Northwestern University. In the book "The Truth About Trust," he said that humans learned to trust each other when they started forming families. Couples needed to be sure that each partner would stay around to feed and protect their offspring.

Later on, humans would only trust those that belonged to the same tribe. Up to now, “sameness” works in earning trust. We may easily warm up to people who come from our hometown, those who personally know our relatives and those who are similar to us in looks, social status, outlook in life, or sense of humor. 

This insight has been exploited much by politicians. For example, they like to project the outward appearance of a “common man.” They may share a meal with a poor family when photographers are around. It’s their way of saying “ we eat the same food, you can trust me."

DeSteno also wrote that modern society is not possible without trust. Whether whole-heartedly or reluctantly, we have to trust doctors to heal our diseases, schools to educate our children, engineers to build our bridges, pilots to fly us across the seas, and leaders to protect our interests.

Even though humans are conditioned to trust leaders, they can lose the faith of people if they do disappointing things. For example, they can be found telling lies, playing favorites, trading favors with corrupt people, or threatening those with a dissenting opinion.

Essential to leadership is a clarity of vision. Leaders who contradict themselves or change positions, in an attempt to dodge criticism, create confusion and disenchantment. The erosion of support may appear slow but once a tipping point is reached, the dip can be sudden and steep.

Whenever I have to make a crucial decision in the office, I take the extra effort of talking one-on-one, heart to heart, with the people who may be affected. I repeatedly say “trust that I am making this decision for a good reason” as though I am willing to bet a whole year’s salary on my claim. (Maybe 10 year’s salary to be sufficient.) Then again, I cannot just ask for their trust if I haven’t invested a lot of credibility beforehand.

We may experience insubordination, criticism, or even a mutiny, if we appear incompetent, unfair, or having hidden agenda and self-vested interests. 

David Horsager is a professor of Organized Leadership for Bethel University’s graduate program. In the book The Trust Edge, he advised that in business, the key factors to winning people’s trust are :

Clarity: having a vision and articulating it well
Compassion: genuinely caring for others
Character: living by moral values
Competency: having excellence and continuing to learn and improve
Commitment: keeping one’s promise even if it requires sacrifice
Connection: building relationships
Contribution: delivering and rewarding results
Consistency: being trustworthy every day and in everything. 

Horsager also recommends that we must trust our staff to give them the opportunity to be the best they can be. Delegating significant tasks to subordinates will make them feel valued. The professor reminds us to find that sweet spot between taking risks and micromanaging. 

Marketing specialist Guy Kawasaki was one of the Apple evangelists who propagated love for the Macintosh. His best-selling book "Enchantment" explains that getting people “enchanted” is the best way to change hearts and inspire action. To have such charismatic effect of people, one has to be likable and trustworthy. To be liked and trusted, one has to be authentic.

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This piece was originally published in the author's blog, 
http://www.robertlabayen.com/2017/10/can-you-make-people-trust-you.html

Read more about ExecuTips on www.robertlabayen.com

About the Author:

Robert Labayen spent 22 years in advertising prior to joining ABS-CBN in 2004. He was VP-Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi and Executive Creative Director at J. Walter Thompson, two of the country's leading ad agencies. He is currently the Head of Creative Communications Management at ABS-CBN. His job involves inspiring people to be their best. He is a writer, painter and songwriter.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.