The Art of Building Trust
In a previous article we explored the importance of trust in the work place and the dangers that can arise if we don’t trust our colleagues. With the support of a very popular book, we offer some insight to business partners and mangers in building trust in the workplace.
Working with professional services firms and support functions within any sort of business, we find a common challenge: How can we be better business partners?
Whether you’re building relationships with external clients, or supporting teams within a company through service provision of HR, IT, Finance support etc – we all need to be great business partners.
The Trusted Advisor book gives a great introduction as it helps us understand why we call one person a supplier – yet call on someone else in the same position or profession a friend, confidant or – you guessed it, trusted advisor.
In a nutshell we need to listen, ask questions and advise effectively. Sounds ridiculously simple? Well, yes it is – but we all know common sense is rarely common action.
It makes sense because if I’m going to trust you, confide in you and think you can help me, I must believe that you’re in it to help me, not yourself. In spite of the common sense this seems to tap into, this is the number one area where people fall down. We’ve all got our to-do lists, priorities, objectives and we come to every meeting with an agenda – so how can we possibly demonstrate that we’re in it for others?
Here are some tips on how you can do it better…
Drop your Agenda
Or as one of clients puts it – “suspend your agenda.” Put your own agenda to one side. You might be here to win a sale or to get agreement on a project you want to go ahead with – but what do they want? What does the other person in this conversation need from you?
And that means actually work hard to understand what they’re saying and what they mean. This is different to “waiting to speak”!
Ask to clarify your understanding of something – “do you mean…?” Ask to explore something further – “what might that look like?”
In the book, the authors talk about this as – explain each option, give the pros and cons of each option, make a clear recommendation with a rationale. If you have asked questions and listened well, this should be easy for you to do.
Be more curious
We’re often asked how we know what questions to ask – whether that’s in a coaching context, consulting situation or everyday conversation. This book nails it by simply explaining why we need to be more curious. Of course there’s not much in the way of practical tips on how to be more curious – as it’s simply seen as a yes or no mindset. Are you being curious right now or assuming you already know everything you need to know?
The powerful point here is that we can choose at any moment to be more curious and ask more questions.
The Trusted Advisor is a great read and is available from all good book stores.