Trust – transcending time and change

When you establish trust with someone, it endures – over time, and even if the nature of the relationship changes.

Last week, I had a meeting with Gareth. He’s an IP lawyer and our discussion included brand protection, how to meet European privacy legislation,  how I can help one of his clients who wants to apply for a Government grant and the synergies between creation of content and protection of content. It was a good meeting.

Six years earlier…

Roll back the clock six years and I am also meeting with Gareth – but in this scenario, I am the General Manager of Toshiba’s point of sale business and Gareth is a video content producer. We’re discussing the development of a promotional video about point of sale technology.

Trust transcends change

So what’s the point here? The point is that despite Gareth and I both having pretty significant changes of career focus, we continue to do business with one another and refer to one another. We trust each other’s expertise and capability.

It got me thinking about why that was the case and I pretty quickly realised that it is all to do with trust. Real trust – the kind that is not situational, or even to do with specific skills, but which is based on deeper, underlying traits.

How do we build trust?

When I first worked with Gareth, he showed himself to be professional, knowledgeable, trustworthy.  I enjoyed doing business with him and he delivered the outcome that he promised. Someone who listened and understood my requirements. The fact that that the outcome was making a video and now it is back to his original career of providing specialist legal services makes no differing. Trust carries over from one area of engagement to the next.

I’ve been lucky enough to see this in my own experience – many of the people who choose to use me when they need content, communication training or tender writing first knew me in those IBM/Toshiba days. Hopefully I left the same impression with them as Gareth left with me.

The behaviours that form trust

I also thought about what behaviours help to build that ‘transportable’ trust.  I came up with five that, for me, hold the key:

  • A ‘helping’ mindset, not a selling mindset – we trust people who we believe truly want to help us. Yes, we know this is business and there will be money changing hands, but trust happens when we believe that their overriding goal is to help.
  • Do what you say you will do – we trust someone who keeps to their commitments.
  • Listen – we all want to deal with people who listen to us, hear us and show they understand what we what to achieve.
  • Add value – we trust people who can advise us and show us better ways to do things. Generosity builds trust, so we gravitate to people who give more than they take.
  • Communication – mistakes happen, but trust survives if we can admit to mistakes, be honest about issues and communicate openly.

Trust is essential in business, but something that can’t be forced or dictated. Do tell me if you have had similar experiences. Have you built trust that survives changes of situation, career and skillset? And on what would be in your list of top five behaviours for creating and retaining trust?

PS – want to know how to protect your brand, or check that you are in line with international privacy legislation?  I know a great IP lawyer!


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