With the kind of work we do at Strengthscope, we are deeply conscious of the importance of trust and actually within consulting generally, the holy grail of client relationships is often seen as achieving hallowed ’trusted adviser’ status. But how do you become the ‘trusted adviser’, how do you become trusted – as an individual or as an organisation?
Remember that being trusted is an outcome of what you put in but you don’t have direct control of it, it is others’ responses to you that tell you whether or not you have built their trust.
We have to start by thinking about what undermines trust? When we hear about something in the news or at work, or in life, are there some examples of things that lead people to trust others less (whether they are an individual or an organisation or a brand)? Here are some of the biggies:
So now let’s think about how you as an individual or as a business can build trust with others. Here’s all-time Top 6:
1. Be authentic – show up as real actual ‘you’, the human. Showing your strengths and your vulnerabilities, being more ‘what you see is what you get’ is more likely to get people seeing you as trustworthy. When people are inauthentic we can tell because we can subconsciously pick up when others are hiding things or suppressing emotions. So first up is know yourself and then be yourself. Be authentic, behave according to your values and purpose.
2. Be consistent – consistency of behaviour, of messages, of what you say to whom and linking your words to your actions. Do what you say you will do. In short deliver to your own and to other people’s expectations. In being consistent, you will be perceived to have integrity. Which then leads to people believing you are trustworthy. And remember that it takes time to become trusted! It takes time to build a reputation that you are reliable, a safe pair of hands.
3. Be open and honest – this includes being honest about your own agenda, what you would want to get from a particular situation and encouraging others to do be honest about their needs and wants. Also, acknowledging your mistakes and giving others feedback as well as requesting it. This is the essence of openness and honesty – being comfortable to give and receive feedback. A final part of this area is getting good at listening and being careful with criticism. Particularly with public criticism, where you are criticising other people openly; while this may have the short term benefit of getting you closer to the people you are sharing your views with, in the longer term, it’s likely to lead to concerns that you may be saying the same or similar about them with a different group of people.
4. Develop a Growth mindset – so a growth mindset is bringing an attitude of openness to learn, actively looking for opportunities to learn, and not presenting yourself or trying to be perfect; instead, show others that you are willing to learn and that you want to KEEP learning. None of us is the finished article after all.
5. Be appreciative – be appreciative of others’ efforts without being sycophantic or saccharine. People appreciate being appreciated and it’s more likely to lead to them reciprocating to appreciate you. And with that will come a greater sense of understanding and a quicker path to mutual trust.
6. The final point is a little more controversial but it is to Trust – trust others BEFORE they’ve earned your trust. This relates to the pygmalion effect…that if you believe in others’ skill or competence, they are more likely to demonstrate that skill or competence. This approach, of course, brings risk because it is possible that unscrupulous people might abuse your trust, but if you can trust others in a measured way, while still having some checks and controls built in, the more likely your trust will be reciprocated (the logic goes: if you’re trusting me, I must be trustworthy, which means you probably are too).
So there are the Big 6: be authentic, be consistent, be open and honest, develop a growth mindset, be appreciative and trust others. If you do all 6, you’ll get to trusted adviser status about as quickly as is possible, but let’s be real, it does take time and it takes discipline to build that all important reputation with others.
In the new year it makes sense to focus on how to get the most from the year ahead, so, here are some tips for getting the most from any New Year planning and, most importantly, keeping that plan going for the whole year.
To start with, make sure that you’re getting your priorities right, so what is at the top of your list for making 2019 is the best year be for you? Is it spending more time with your family or partner or friends, is it getting a new job, changing career, going solo, is it making more time for you, going travelling? It could be any of these things or none of these things, but knowing what, for you, is an absolute must – no negotiation, no excuses. Supercharge that priority by telling other people about it, making it a mantra, writing it down, putting it at the top of every to-do list you write, making it your wallpaper, or some picture that reminds you of it. Your subconscious is a funny thing, it tends to process statements without filtering or judging them so if you wrote down ‘Family is my #1 priority’ then when your subconscious sees that it tends to process it as truth. So, the more you see that statement, or something that reminds you of that top priority, the more likely it is to stick.
So once you’re clear on your MOST important goal that will make 2019 a success, making that priority an achievable goal is the next task. So for example, say you want to spend more time with your family in 2019. To make that smart, you could instead aim to have a minimum of 4 family meals a week together plus not work weekends. That way, you’re making your goal specific and measureable. Whether this is achievable is kind of down to you. If needed, you could work gradually toward achieving your goal, putting in place things that will make sure it happens. So, for example, if you want to start a podcast and release it on a Monday, but your goal is to keep your weekends free for your family, you could set out some time each Friday to avoid weekend working on it.
The ‘R’ of ‘Smarter’ goals is RELEVANT and if this goal is part of your most important priority of 2019 then it is, by definition, relevant to you. Last part of SMART is TIME-LIMITED. The important thing is to stick to the time plan. So there should be no vagueness or ‘hopefully at some point during the year’, it needs to be specific. In terms of ‘SMART-ER’ goals, which includes an additional E and R, these letters stand for Evaluated and Reviewed. So for a goal to be SMARTER, it’s worth checking in on it every now and again and making sure that it’s still relevant and important. There’s nothing wrong with swapping out a goal with something more stretching if you feel you’ve already built the habit around that goal that you set at the start of the year. So, by mid-year, you may be saying ‘box ticked’ with regards to family meals and not working at weekends, but what about spending more time helping with the kids’ homework or watching a movie together as a family, or something else valuable. Make goals SMART but don’t be a slave to them, let them be dynamic so that you can shift them or build on them if you need to.
OK, next thing for the new plan is to build your new habits NOW. With any goal or habit, the best thing you can do is start as soon as possible, preferably right now. That way, you’re riding the momentum of having done the thinking, made your plan, worked out your goals, told people about them, created your mantra etc… Your brain is going to be most receptive at this point to you making a change in behaviour, partly to reduce cognitive dissonance (this idea that we the brain likes things to be aligned rather than out of sync, so if you’ve done all of the planning etc. but you haven’t shifted your behaviour yet, your brain feels that’s a ‘dissonant’ state and will want to create a ‘consonant’ one to reduce any feelings of anxiety). So use that knowledge to start your new habits now.
Last thing is to go easy on yourself. It’s all too easy to be over-ambitious with your goals for the year. I’m going to lose 3 stone, run 2 marathons and start 4 new businesses in 2019. Are you though? Or are you going to look back at the goals you set, the plan you made at the start of 2019 and realise you’d given yourself too much to do? And spend most of the year beating yourself up about it? If so, be more realistic with your plan at this point. And even if you realise that you have been a bit OTT with what you thought you could achieve, remember that small steps are still progress, little wins are still wins, hitting 50% of your goals is better than hitting 40%. So show yourself some love and some compassion, there’s no use in being overly self-critical.
So there’s my 4 things in a nutshell for getting going in 2019:
Good luck, and happy new year!