Value of Trust
The value of trust is one indispensable quality that affects every relationship and situation in your life. There’s more of a seamless movement in our lives when there is trust. As a benchmark, from the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer, 22nd annual trust and credibility survey, nearly one out of two respondents out of 36,000 view government and media as divisive forces in society. This is probably not surprising to most.
People are shutting off the news more and more because they don’t know what to believe and the fact that bad news sells doesn’t make it any better. Many feel the news has become more of an opinion piece instead of good quality journalism. The study goes on to state that we are seeing an even greater expectation of business to lead. But the value of trust is not built in business alone. True success in life is not possible without trust in multiple areas. This applies to business, life events and relationships. In this article we focus on high and low trust relationships, destroying trust and also steps to regain trust.
High trust relationships bring to mind the words authentic, real, honest, integrity. Most people, if asked, would love those high-trust words said about them. When one is trustworthy, you can depend on them in a number of areas, such as finance, sales, medical advice and many other areas. If you are told you need brain surgery, I guarantee you’ll be looking for a trustworthy brain surgeon who won’t mess up the operation and leave you paralyzed for the rest of your life.
These high-trust relationships take time to develop. The popular online app Yelp is a place people can post reviews for everything from restaurants to bed and breakfasts and more. When looking for a place to eat in a new area, many find new opportunities by looking at those reviews. Amazon reviews have become a huge benchmark for finding new products, books and sometimes even services. Garnering a five-star review makes an item seem more viable as a legitimate purchase. They also lower the risk of purchases, making most returns easy. (Just be aware of the 30-day window on returns for electronic products!)
Regular communication is also a huge factor in developing and maintaining trust. With a financial advisor or representative, getting a regular update about your account and market trends develops a sense that your investment, no matter how large or small, is in good hands. Trust allows for different pieces of your life to move and engage with each other. The lack of trust slows all of that down.
With the rise of influencers and social media posts, pretense, fame for the sake of fame and even manipulation of photos and videos make much of our online content hard to verify as trustworthy. The value of trust within the online community can be all but lost unless it is nurtured with thoughtful and trustworthy content. Online reviews can even be manipulated, and I have known those who reach best seller status with books, but only because they call upon all their friends and colleagues to purchase a discounted copy on a single day. That doesn’t make a product any better. It just gives it a title that may or may not be trusted.
What about those sales calls that come through unsolicited on your phone? Those unsolicited calls are in the low-trust category, especially when they try to hard-sell you on your expired car maintenance insurance or a new marketing opportunity. Most callers have no idea who you are and quite possibly, you are on their long list of contacts. Why don’t those type of sales calls work? Mostly because they’ve not bothered to nurture the relationship.
Those callers don’t really know who you are, what your business entails and what you really need. In fact, there are actually even certain people that I dread running in to as I know they’re going to try to sell me something I don’t want or need. That is unfortunate.
The Boy Who Cried Wolf was an Aesop’s fable that is a great illustration of destroying trust. When the shepherd boy was bored, to amuse himself he cried out, Wolf! Wolf! The Wolf is chasing the sheep! The villagers came running up the hill but found no wolf as the boy laughed. He did this a second time and again the villagers came running with no wolf in sight. The third time was real, but no one believed the boy because he had deceived them twice and now he was bearing the consequences with scattered sheep from a real wolf.
When messages are mixed, sometimes true and sometimes not true, it’s hard to know what to believe as we’ve heard Wolf! Wolf! so many times. This is what’s happened with the media and also with the CDC in sending out different messages during the pandemic. Without getting into any political stance, it seems that trusting science has now come to a place of trusting opinion. This has applied to masks and even therapeutics in some of our recent health challenges. One day there’s a mandate the next, there’s no value with the mandate but now there are many who are fearful and distrust most any messaging going forward. This is why I believe there will be many who are afraid to take their mask off, possibly for a very long while.
Many buyers are making purchases in alignment with a company they trust. In fact, employers are trusted more than government on many issues even though people don’t want them to get political. Good and reliable information goes a long way in building that trust.
There is no single path to regain trust that is broken but there are principles that will lead you on the right path. You want to be authentic, sincere and deliberate through this process. There is no substitute for that. There are three basic steps here to regaining trust: express and affirm empathy, offer an apology, then offer a plan to move forward.
With empathy, you want to at least try to feel what they are feeling. With a client, if they didn’t receive the delivery they were promised, they now have empty shelves and unhappy customers. Make sure you hear them out with their frustrations. It’s much easier to keep talking, but remember, listening is key to the path of restoration.
After spending the time to truly listen and empathize with their position, express sincere regret with as much truthful explanation you have. Don’t try to sugar coat it or just excuse the problem away. Then lastly, come up with some sort of plan to move forward. Your plan can include looking for another distributor or shipping company to fulfill their orders.
In this process, you’ve affirmed them, offered an apology, then offered a plan going forward. This is where you get the chance to rebuild trust. If you can follow through with a similar process, either trust will be fully or partially regained or still be completely lost. But you’ve initiated a solution. Always be honest and offer some sort of plan. Ideally you will be on the same team, pulling toward the same goal.
Application for Additional Areas of Life
The value of trust is far-reaching in many areas. With adult children, if you’ve built some sort of a trust relationship, this will at least allow you to state your opinion. Ideally, they will start to ask your opinion, but that right has to be earned with trust, just like any other relationship. So much in building the value of trust is obtained by first listening and understanding.
Following through on promises builds trust in most every area. One of the reasons for the breakdown of trust is a broken promise, or group of promises. When there are unknowns, be honest to minimize what can happen with the unfulfillment of those promises. Creating mandates and ultimatums when not fully knowing facts tears down trust, especially when people can see through other unmet obligations and promises. Transparency and honesty go a long way toward building back what was once lost.
Extra Resources: Ways to Give Emotional Support in Relationships, How to Encourage Each Other as Friends, Colleagues and Spouses The Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey
There is no single path to regain trust that is broken but there are principles that will lead you on the right path.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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