Trust Is The Ultimate Competitive Advantage

The classic blockbuster movie, Ghost Busters, got us all chanting, “Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters.” It was a catchy line.

Considering current events, today’s slogan for millions of people is, “Who you gonna trust?” The answer for many people is “Nobody.” It’s a scary answer.

After all, about half of the American people don’t trust one or both of our Presidential candidates. And yet the very foundation of all relationships that work, all organizations that are profitable, and all countries that survive is TRUST. There is simply no other foundation on which you can build anything lasting or worthwhile.

When it comes to customer loyalty, for example, nothing is more important than the trust you develop with your customers. Research from Texas A & M University says if the customer can trust you, if the customer sees you as being reliable, if the customer sees you doing what you said you would do, he will become an enthusiastic customer.

The same is true with your co-workers. If your co-workers see you telling the truth and being honest, you’ll build a bond of trust that leads to more cooperation and motivation.

So trust is your ultimate competitive advantage. Perhaps that’s why George McDonald, the renowned preacher, said, “It is a greater compliment to be trusted than loved.”

The lesson is clear. If you want better relationships and more business, you’ve got to build more trust.

Here are a few things you can do.

Intern in office

►1. Assume the best about the other person.

When something goes wrong, or when the other person disappoints you, start by assuming the best.

Don’t immediately jump into the fray, pound your desk, froth at the mouth, and demand to know why he/she did something so stupid.

Instead, honor the other person. Rather than focus on WHO’s to blame for what went wrong, focus on WHAT can be done about it. That takes the focus off the past and off the other person. It puts the focus onto the future where the two of you can work together.

Besides, if you jump in too quickly, blaming someone for what happened, you’ll often embarrass yourself. You may find out that you’re really the one to blame for the problem that occurred.

For example, you may not have trained your coworker on how to handle customer complaints, so he can’t be blamed if he handles a situation poorly. Or it may be, in certain situations, your instructions were ambiguous. Your staff person tried to do the right thing but didn’t understand your intentions. So assume the best about the other person.

Then …

► 2. Stick up for the other person.

You build trust when you speak out on someone’s behalf, especially when it’s not politically popular or interpersonally comfortable. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “In the end we will not remember the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.”

I’ll never forget the time I chaired the task force of a charitable organization. Over a period of time, it came to my attention that the organization had misused funds on several occasions, either through ignorance or dishonesty. Either way, my task force members urged me to confront the Board and document my findings. They would be there to back me up.

I did that, but not one of the task force members backed me up when the top leaders lashed out in defense and aggression. If nothing else, I learned that Dr. King was right; it was the silence of my “friends” that I remember the most today.

Trust-building is one of the characteristics of emotionally and socially intelligent people. You will learn that and so much more at my virtual Journey-to-the-Extraordinary experience coming October 3-4, 2024.

Put it on your calendar. And be on the lookout for Super Early-Bird savings.

► 3. Refuse to gossip about the other person.

There’s something very alluring about sharing a negative tidbit. It may make you feel a bit superior, but you’ve got to fight the urge to add to the gossip and the people bashing that may go on in the company cafeteria or at a family reunion. You just can’t do it, if you ever want to build trust with the person you are discussing.

The reason is simple. Negative gossip almost always gets back to the person you are discussing. That’s just the nature of juicy, negative, sensationalized news. And to make matters worse, the version that gets back to the person you discussed is almost always worse than the version you first shared.

So you see … one of the keys to trust building is not only saying the right thing at the right time, it’s also resisting to say the wrong thing at the tempting moment.

► 4. Keep your promises.

Nothing builds trust faster than doing what you said you would do.

And nothing destroys trust faster than failing to keep your promises. In fact, the Center for Creative Leadership found that the #1 killer of a person’s career, or not moving up the corporate ladder, was someone not keeping their promises.

Think about it. No one ever forgets a promise. You tell your child you’ll take her to the amusement park and she’ll remind you fifteen times that “you promised.”

You tell a colleague that you’ll get back to him and he sees it as a promise. And it doesn’t work to go back to that colleague and say you forgot or you got busy. In his mind, you broke your promise and the trust between the two of you was damaged.

So KEEP YOUR PROMISES unless huge personal emergency makes it impossible.

► 5. Let the other person know you’re sticking with him/her.

Don’t be like the woman who rushed home from work and exclaimed to her husband, “Pack your bags. I’ve won the lottery!”

The husband excitedly asked, “Should I pack clothes for warm or cold weather?”

She replied, “Pack ‘em all. You’re leaving!”

What’s needed is the kind of commitment demonstrated by best-selling author Max Lucado’s parents. He said his parents came to every one of his sixty Little League games. They never missed, even though he only got two hits in all his years of playing. As Max later wrote in one of his books, “Their commitment was deeper than my performance.” It’s that kind of sticking with someone that builds trust.

Final Thought: Trust building takes times. Re-building trust takes even more time. But these five strategies will help you do both.