Everyone loves a personal connection. I love that my local barista knows my name and favorite caffeinated concoction.
I think this personal attention is every great salesperson’s secret. True love is in the details.
INGCO’s sales leader became genuine friends with Jenna, and they shared their Pinterest pages with toddler birthday party themes. This shared interest bonded them, and their professional relationship has become several additional projects.
Our favorite way to build client trust is through good old conversation and rapport. As we emerge from pandemic-induced isolation, people crave connection more than ever and are looking to reconnect meaningfully (Poswolsky 2022). You can find common interests, share personal anecdotes, and ask passion-oriented questions to build rapport. But you also must truly listen and engage. Quality personal connections take time and patience.
These connections are especially important when building trust across cultures, as language barriers and cultural differences complicate communication. But this time and effort is worth it. When you get to know others personally, trust will flow more naturally. And to operate effectively, you need a partnership based on trust and transparency.
In a 2021 Forbes article, Mary Shores emphasizes that “one of the best ways to build trust is to focus on how you communicate with your customers.” I will take that a step further. The best way to build trust is to focus on how you communicate with everyone.
How you communicate is comprised of logistics but also emotional qualities. Communication starts with listening and is followed by some nonnegotiable requirements to ensure healthy and productive communication:
- Always approach clients with kindness and empathy. High-quality listening will make this more accessible and more authentic.
- Be respectful of people’s time and arrive at meetings prepared with clear agendas and objectives. No one has time for endless chatter, and you show respect by setting time boundaries and plans.
- Keep cool and maintain an even tone, especially when heated or emotional conversations. The world is on high alert, and everyone is in a heightened state of sensitivity. No shortage of extremely emotionally charged topics exists. You’re unlikely to win an emotional argument, so it’s better not to try.
With all the devastation and division we’re experiencing these days, we suffer from a severe breakdown of trust. People are quick to make assumptions and judge others based on their stance on controversial issues. But remember, these topics are complex, and many arguments on both sides of the equation come from deep-seated values and beliefs.
Engaging in open, trusting, and empathetic conversation can help us learn from one another and pave a healthier and more productive way forward because trusting someone is easier when you know them, and conversation leads to deeper relationships. Remember to set clear boundaries with clients whose behavior veers into abusiveness to protect yourself and your employees.
Our ability as humans to communicate is our primary trust-building mechanism. Through clear and consistent communication, we build and maintain trust. But as mere humans, we tend to lose track of anything that isn’t at the forefront of our minds. As leaders, we need to remind people what we stand for. This includes reminding your stakeholders who you are as an organization. What are your core values? Why do you exist? What are your plans for the future? It also means listening to your clients to learn their core values, purpose, and goals.
Behind your words, authenticity matters.
If we, as employees, consumers, and stakeholders, do not believe the communication directed at us, we will not trust the message or the messenger. As leaders, we must be accountable for ensuring our organizations and we walk the walk.
Nourish and Prioritize Trustworthiness
Work harder on trust than anything else within your organization and in your stakeholder interactions. Make it a priority—nourish, cultivate, and grow it. Think about the little details to surprise and delight customers.
Thinking about trust as a “one and done” exercise that doesn’t need sustained attention isn’t just inauthentic, it’s quite frankly a waste of the time and resources you initially put into developing trust with your stakeholders.
Business Leaders Are in Desperate Need of Support and The Growth Coach Is Here to Help(Opens in a new browser tab)
A continuous and concerted effort to nourish trust with clients speaks volumes about who you are and what matters to you. It reminds your clients they are important, you are listening to them, and you’re walking with them to accomplish their goals.
Excerpted from The Language of Trust: Communicate to Build Meaningful Relationships in Business and Life.
About the Author: Ingrid Christensen is an entrepreneur, business leader, and advocate passionate about providing equal access to information to everyone, no matter what language they speak. The President and Founder of INGCO International, Ingrid launched the company in 2006 after witnessing firsthand how translation and interpreting services bridge divides and connect people from different cultures. Today, INGCO provides translation and interpreting services in over 200 languages to companies across the globe in various sectors. Ingrid is also the author of The Language of Trust: Communicate to Build Meaningful Relationships in Business and Life.
By Ingrid Christensen