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Why People Don’t Trust You – 2 tips to build trust fast

Whether you’re a manager who wants an employee to make a change, a sales person who wants that customer to ‘buy’, or a teacher who wants their student to try something new, to some degree, you are asking that person to take a risk.  What if your advice or idea doesn’t work?

The more a person ‘trusts you’ the more likely they’ll be to take that risk and act on your idea, advice, or request.  Now, you can just sit back and hope they trust you, or you can maximize the likelihood they’ll trust you, by taking action. 

Here are 2 practical things you can do to build trust quickly and easily with others:

  1. Connect. Take time to get to know the other person.  In a meeting, over coffee, on your way to the next sales call.  It only takes a minute to ask someone about themselves:
    1. What’s one thing most important to you about your work? (To an employee…)
    2. Where do you see yourself 5 years from now? (To a business owner perhaps).
    3. What’s one thing your most proud of? (To a child, or ‘anyone’ for that matter.)
    4. What do you love to do in your spare time? (To anyone).

Notice, these questions are not about the weather or the local sports team, they’re about the other person.  People tend to trust those who know something about them, or have ‘empathy’ for their situation1.  Who are you more willing to trust, a complete stranger, or someone who knows you?  

I knew a VP of sales who, after 2 years, didn’t know that his top sales person was a single parent.  He said he ‘I didn’t have time’ to get to know them. You have time.  It takes 30 seconds to ask a question and maybe another 4 minutes to listen to their answer.

  1. Double click: Show your sincere interest by getting curious.  When someone says ‘’ya I’ve been super busy’, instead of saying, ‘ya I know what you mean’, be curious; try double clicking2. Just like on a computer, when you ‘double click’ your mouse on a topic, it opens up.  So when you’re listening to someone, be curious, listen for key words, and try double clicking.  For example:
    1. “Super busy”?  ‘What’s on your plate that’s keeping you so busy?’
    2. ‘When you say more “work life balance” what would be the ideal balance for you?’
    3. “Advance your career” tell me more…’
    4. ‘You “won an award”.  You must be so proud. (Then be quiet so they can say more).

As Malcolm Gladwell points out in his book ‘Blink’, people have exquisite observations skills.  When you’re sincerely interested in someone, they pick up on it; the tone of your voice, your eye contact, your words.  This sends the message that you feel they are important. 

Think of someone you’d like to build trust with. Then go ask them one sincere question about them and listen. You’ll be investing in the relationship and building trust while you do.

1 see Marcus Buckingham’s ‘First Break All The Rules’ and the “Q-12” question, ‘my manager or someone at work seems to care about me …’

2 Andy Kimball of Qube International taught me this metaphor.  Qube is a global company specializing in sales force readiness, leadership, and e-learning solutions.


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