I literally bumped into an old friend and colleague (Rob Jackson) in Edinburgh Waverley Train Station a few weeks ago. Although it was a little while since we last met, it wasn’t long before we started reminiscing about the good old days, sharing some of our favourite stories, from our time working together. What was clear to me, was that trust, was the key to our relationship. Let me explain further….
Nearly 20 years ago, we often travelled together throughout Scotland, to visit new and existing clients to complete sales calls. During the actual visit, we built such a strong rapport that we just knew when to let the other lead. As we talked together, I recalled one visit in particular, where we were approaching the close of the sale and I leaned over to the client, touching her on the wrist and said “it will be okay.” I’m not quite sure what came over me, but it was a powerful act of reassurance that closed the sale. It was one of those “in the moment” experiences and it just felt like the right thing to do. As I have reflected on that experience many times over, it was a particularly dangerous move, violating her personal space, touching someone, even just momentarily, that I hardly knew. If that were to happen today, I’d most likely be accused of something much more sinister. Funnily enough, Rob couldn’t remember the experience and yet for me, I’ve never forgotten it.
Why share this story now? It was only a year or two after that experience, I discovered the trust equation, as outlined in The Trusted Advisor (Maister, Green and Galford). I’ve just finished reading it again, and over the last couple of months, either in my own work, or working as an associate for other organisations, I have shared the equation on numerous occasions.
I’m sure many of you will be familiar with this diagram, and if you are not, then you need to be!! This is a powerful tool and once fully understood and applied, it will help to establish long lasting, credible, reliable and intimate relationships, to be built on a firm foundation of trust.
- Credibility – this is about the words we speak, and how trustworthy they make us appear to others.
- Reliability – this is about the actions we take and whether we are true to our word.
- Intimacy – this concerns how safe or secure others feel around us, based upon previous experience.
- Self Interest/Orientation – the extent to which our concerns and focus are on ourselves, as opposed to others.
In their research, they propose that the level of trust we have with a person will depend on the depth of our personal relationship (intimacy & self-interest) and the breadth of issues that they are willing to discuss with us (credibility & reliability). Increasing the level of any of the variables in the numerator increases the level of trustworthiness. Decreasing the value of the denominator – will have the same effect. In other words, we can increase the level of trust in a relationship by focusing on any of these four factors.
For further information see the link The Trust Equation
As Ehsan Sehgal stated “Trust is the key to all matters: without that you establish nothing, even you lose what you have. Create the atmosphere of trust before any step.”
Bumping into Rob, reminded me of the power of trusting relationships all over again. That one intimate moment, coupled with credibility, reliability and forgetting ourselves were the foundation of a successful sales partnership for a number of years. Little did we know it at the time, but our determination to live and breathe those principles in our daily actions, were the key to our success. Time will pass, but when trust is present, years will go by and it will seem as if it was but the twinkling of an eye.
My invitation today, is for each of us to slow down a little, reflect upon what matters most, consider those key relationships that need to be revisited and simply apply a liberal dose of the healing balm of the trust equation!