3 easy rules in building Trust – in Leadership, Branding and all relationships

Trust is a universal need in all relationships, isn’t it? The degree of importance may vary from one person to the next, but we all need trust in all aspects of our relationships. It is the most cherished need, and it is the bond that holds all other values together. It is the belief that someone or something is reliable, dependable, good, honest, etc. It is our natural state….how we expect things to be.

It is true that some people are more trustworthy than others—and some are regarded as having trust issues based on past experiences–regardless, it is an earned process that can only be achieved when we’ve had a chance to feel it with all our senses, test it, and experience it. And over time, once trust is build, we can endure the other tests of the ages.

The irony about trust is that it takes a long time to build, but only a few minutes to destroy.  And trust rarely comes from the good times, but it stems from those tough times when alternative was much easier.

We trust those who mean what they do and say…and we trust those who say and do what they mean.  Trust is built on integrity…..those moral and ethnical principals and values.  We trust people who keep their promises, specially when it’s easier to break them.  Saying what they truly mean and intend to do, even when lip service for the sake of gain is much easier.  Trust stems from honesty, specially when it’s easier to lie and hide….and get away with it.  Trust is the strongest ground to stand upon, and this strength can only come from consistency in honesty and integrity…specially when that consistency comes with a price.  A leader willing to pay a price to act with honesty and integrity, and do that consistently, will earn the unbeatable trust of his people.

The values that build trust are honesty, integrity and consistency. There are certainly many other important values that leaders and companies must adhere to.  Other important values such as, empathy, compassion, acceptance, respect, authenticity, etc, are also important and may contribute to trust, but I don’t believe they are the foundation. If I can be honest that I’m not accepting of someone or something, you can trust that I mean what I say. If you are honest and consistent that you are not empathic, I may not like you, but I will trust that you mean what you say and will do as you mean. When you are honest, speak the truth—or admitting even when you lie—and you do that consistently, you can become trustworthy. People will start believing “trust” in you, even if they don’t like what they hear. Trust has nothing to do with being liked or even loved.

The values we all hold dear to our hearts stem from beliefs.  Our beliefs grow from what we see, hear, experience and think about. Beliefs manifest themselves in what we say and do, our actions being the actual, physical expression of these abstract ideas. They are the basis for decision making, and they drive consumption behavior for businesses. They are how we communicate and relate with others. Simply put, if I don’t believe I can trust you, I will not follow you and I will not consume your product and services.  And if you break my trust, it will cost you a lot time, energy and resources to gain it back.

I always say that at the end of each business line, there is a person who is motivated through beliefs and values–and so it is a relationship, no different than all our other relationships. Building business strategies and branding messages around trust and communicating it is no different than building trust in any personal relationships.  If you are honest with your employees and customers, speak the truth even when it’s difficult, practice integrity and moral principles, and you do that consistently, you will build trust.

And once you have trust, you will have loyalty. Smart business leaders know that you can’t pay enough to buy loyalty from a customer or a valued employee. Trust breeds loyalty, and loyalty creates brand ambassadors as well as low turnover. Let’s face it….your new world customers, specially millennials and women, are less trusting and more skeptical of advertising. They will trust something if someone else has approved or testified for it. In The New World Marketplace, when companies are thinking about building trust, they need to consider the group dynamics that impact individual beliefs and decisions.

Trust is not the only value that leads to relationship success. But building trust is the foundation, and should be the starting point. In all relationships. It builds character and brand ID.  The New World Marketplace demands embracing human relationships and their beliefs and values.

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