Over a decade ago, one of Canada’s largest healthcare companies approached me to design and deliver a half-day workshop at its annual conference. I created a proposal, participated in several conference calls with senior staff, revised my proposal and, in the end, they decided not to move ahead. My main contact asked me to stay in touch. I did.
The following year, they asked for a new proposal. There were several conference calls, revisions and the answer, once again, was “no”.
The next year, I repeated the same steps and … the answer was “yes”. I became the very first presenter at an annual conference that came from outside the company. Wow!
What allowed me to finally hear “yes”? How does this experience support storyfinding?
The word “trust” comes to us from the 12th century and means “reliance on the veracity, integrity, or other virtues of someone or something”.
For this company, as with all prospects and clients, trust was essential. Executives needed irrefutable proof that I was reliable. My persistent follow-up provided that proof. They also needed to know that, despite my not being an employee, I could create a workshop that exemplified the company’s values. This knowledge was created through my ability to consistently listen to feedback and willingly revise proposals.
The moment trust arrives is different for every prospect; maintaining trust is different for every client. What stays the same is our choices and actions. Trust is supported by storyfinding in that it requires that we set aside our assumptions and intent. Empathy, curiosity and intuition all play a role in revealing what the other needs in order to gift us with their trust.
Trust is a gift, a fragile one.
It must be continually nurtured to thrive and blossom into many projects, many years of working together.
Here’s what I know to be true about building trust:
- It does not happen quickly. Well, sometimes it does (and I’ll share more about this in next week’s video), but we can’t have that expectation. When we know we deliver value and that we want to work with a company/individual, we must allow for the space and time to build trust – no matter how long it takes!
- People will “tell” you how to gain their trust. In addition to their words, we must stay alert to their actions, body language and tone of voice. All these things contain information on what is required in order for them to gift us their trust.
- “Make a promise; keep a promise” has been my mantra throughout 35 years of business ownership. When we say we are going to do something, from sending an email to attending a meeting to delivering a workshop, we must do it. And yes, things can happen and get in the way, but anytime we don’t keep our word, we risk the loss of trust.
- It is essential to stay humble. Peter Bregman, the CEO of Bregman Partners and best-selling author of Leading with Emotional Courage defines humility as “not knowing”. When we enter our conversations with prospects and clients with the expansiveness of wanting to learn more, we can remain aware of what their continued trust requires.
- It is important to study trust. Experts I follow and rely on include Lea Brovedani and Natalie Doyle Oldfield.
What’s been your most valuable learning experience about trust? Share in the comment section below.