The foundation of all healthy relationships is trust. The foundation of being able to have good, honest and open debates that make our business better is trust. It’s the foundation for being able to get an honest assessment of business partners. So being able to build trust is an essential skill.
Robin Dreeke is a former FBI agent who headed the behavioural program at the FBI and has authored a book called “The Code of Trust”. He has spent his life figuring out how to motivate people and for him much of it boils down to developing genuine trust which then allows the achievement of common goals. In this podcast with Kevin Rose he has some fascinating suggestions and insights.
What drives trust?
Due to the benefits of cooperation, humans have learnt through evolution that affiliation is necessary. Humans are constantly testing their environment for affiliation by sharing their thoughts and opinions and challenges, and seeking to be accepted for who they are. If you are able to non-judgementally (I.e. suspend your ego) accept those thoughts, opinions and seek to understand them more, people will trust you.
So the key to developing trust with someone is
Understand who they are, where they have come from
Understand what their priorities are
Make yourself a resource for their priorities and prosperity: making their lives better in some way you control.
If you want to create an affiliation, make someone feel valued or start to gain someone’s tolerance (ie even if they are hostile) or trust, you have to do one or more of the following things:
1. Seek their thoughts and opinions. We only do this when we value some one and this demonstrates we value them
2. Talk in terms of their priorities
3. Validate them. Even when you disagree, seeking to understand their perspective is validation.
4. Empower them with choice, because we don’t give choice to people unless we value them
Try and build one or more of those into every interaction.
Developing Trust is 100% based on the other person, they have to trust at their own pace, and you have to focus 100% on them and not your own priorities.
Ways to develop and inspire trust in some one.
1. Suspend your ego. Its about them not you. Get over your self, your vanity, your title and your position.
2. Cultivate a happy healthy relationship – always try to foster this with every interaction
3. Open and honest communication to demonstrate transparency about your intentions.
4. Make yourself an available resource for their prosperity, with no expectation of reciprocity.
5. Exercise patience. If the situation does not allow for patience then focus on transparency.
How does this interact with your own goals?
Ie. If you want to convince someone to work with you on something or do something, how does it work if you are just focused on them as per the advice above?
Be very clear with yourself on what your own goals are beforehand. Label them and know them. Then let them go. Once you have clarity on the goal in your own head you don’t have to try hard to achieve it in the interactions. It will just pop up naturally because you know what your goal is. Once you have your goal clear you can then focus completely and genuinely on the other person.
Inspire don’t convince
People spend most of their lives trying to convince people of things, that something is in their best interests. Give up on that. You really can’t convince people of anything very successfully. Rather ask how can inspire people to want to do something.
If I am thinking of convincing you, I am thinking of myself. If I am thinking of inspiring you, I am thinking of you.
If I want to inspire some one I have to understand whats important to them and I have to have resources that I can make available to them to help them achieve it.
How do you have deep challenging conversations?
It depends on the relationship and it depends on your goal.
If there is unconditional trust and you are both vested in each other unconditionally (usually only possible with very close friends and colleagues where trust has been established) you can share open and honest thoughts about the world as long as you are not demonstrating judgement of their thoughts and opinions. However in many situations that level of trust does not exist and you need to be able to develop the trust in the situation to allow the challenging conversation to be heard.
If you don’t agree with someone and you want them to hear your opinion how do you go about it?
Humans have an incessant need to want to correct others. When you disagree, shields go up, and people try to convince you. Agreeing to disagree is not a solution, it ends in disagreement.
The worst thing to do is to tell them you don’t agree with them at all and tell them what you think.
The best way is to ask and genuinely seek to understand their perspective, “tell me what you think, let me understand it better”, and after they have shared their opinions with you, ask them to help you think about your perspective. Then present your perspective and ask for their thoughts and opinions about your perspective. Ie the focus remains on them.
Building trust with someone you have just met in a short time
1. Plan to be genuine and transparent. If there is and sense subterfuge or manipulation (which by definituon will be for your own well-bein, prospertiy or agenda) trust is lost in an instant. That sense of subterfuge is created by any incongruence between your actions and your words. To counter this your primary tool is transparency.
2. Do things to demonstrate an affiliation and commonality, it has to be truthful and accurate. Be thoughtful. Choose a location where the person will feel comfortable. What we wear, will it make them comfortable?
3. Validate a specifc (be as specific as possible) non-judgemental strength, attribute or action of the individual. Eg. “I learnt so much that I have applied in my own life from your book.” This must be completely true and honest, you are not sucking up to them. If you know of nothing else genuine to validaite, then can just acknowledge that their time is important. Specifically proscribe how much of their time you will take, create a time constraint (eg 30seconds, 30 minutes) and honour that commitment.
4. The next thing you say must be something that is important to them. Offer them something that is important to them in terms of their needs, wants or aspirations. If possible make sure you know what they are interested in or want before hand. If you don’t know anything but you need something from them, be open and honest about what you want and ask them about what is important to them and they want.
Creating common ground with someone:
Focus on any common experience or recent challenge. Eg. The weather.
Ask them about what challenges they face in their work, life… people will share their priorities in this sort of question.
Ask about their childhood, family traditions, everyone has family traditions so even if you have different backgrounds and traditions you create common ground.
Another potential motivator: We are genetically coded to want to provide assistance to others through our inbuilt principle of reciprocity. The likelihood of getting someone to do something is higher if they are providing assistance to someone else.
How do you ensure you are not perceived as manipulative?
Manipulators use broad stroke one liners “hey you did a great job last week”, they don’t have time, they are on a mission to take advantage and get what they want. People who are genuine take the time to dive down into the specifics. Demonstrating granularity demonstrates you took the time to understand them at a deep level as a human being.
How do you deal with toxic people or remove poison from a difficult relationship you have to deal with?
Depends on the situation.
Understand what they are trying to do. They may not understand what their own destination is. So if someone is unaware of their own impact ask them “what is it you are actually trying to achieve?” If they are clear, then “how is this helping you get there, and can I help you with that”
Many people have insecurities. When people have insecurities they may react by constantly shifting the goalposts purposefully or unconsciously to manipulate you to keep you emotionally highjacked. If you identify this, know that you are not going to get a different result engaging with them. Don’t allow yourself to be collateral damage to someone else’s insecurities. If you can identify what their specific insecurities are, then attempt to validate them in that specific area, because that will calm them down. That also gives you an understanding of their pain and what drives them. If that doesn’t work then aim to neutralise their impact on yourself and others around you. Mitigate their behaviour by attempting to not let their behaviour effect you emotionally. Ultimately know that it’s not about you, it’s about them.
Even when there is no trust eg. After a relationship has broken down, there are still “cause and effect actions” eg. What would you both agree on is any common end goal and work backwards and ask about whether some action will help achieve the final goal.
Building long term relationships and networks
If you honour this approach and leave people feeling better for having met you, then you don’t have to invest a lot of time to constantly keep the relationship up, you can pick it up when your priorities cross over again. This allows you to develop an ever increasing network, where every time you do touch, be thoughtful, make the engagement and touch point about them and not you, with no expectations and continue to build the trust and relationship.
Here is the link to the podcast