The Trust Equation - How to Build a Professional Friendship

Build a professional Friendship

It was the last interview for the day, I had just asked my interviewer what his most memorable consulting project was. While he was speaking, I didn’t really listen, I was so concerned with how I came across and what the next question was, that I was going to ask. Obviously, my next question was: “So do you think it I can use my languages if I start working here?”. Boom, that was the end of the interview. This totally unrelated question, showed my interviewer that I wasn't really interested in what he had to say, I was just so concerned about myself, and how I was coming across, I totally missed to build trust. 

Looking back, I have had certain situation, where I am sure, I could have done better. During my first projects in consulting, I had 2 bosses who put a high emphasis on reliability. They even told me: "I am giving you small, easy tasks, to see how you perform, so that I can give you bigger tasks." Obviously, I didn't listen, because I knew from experience that easy tasks always bored me, I was too fabulous and smart for easy tasks. As per usual. I didn't understand that this was a way for them to see if they can trust me. Well, needless to say, when the project ended they gave me a bad review, because they didn't trust me. 
If it is one thing that I learned, it is that we never just go to the office to do our work and then come home. At every workplace there is and ecosystem of different personalities, egos, issues we have no idea about, alliances, and ultimately politics. The underlying layer of getting ahead at work is; obviously good work, and trust. The most successful women I have met in the workplace, all were experts in building trust within the organisation. They belong to the people who manage to have their way, not because they are aggressive and demanding, but because they make it look like the idea is the other persons to begin with. 
I always thought this is an impossible task, and that I had to be some kind of sociopath to get there, but luckily a big step is to follow The Trust Equation. We have to meet half way with people, we can accept people the way they are, as well as we expect them to accept us, the way we are. Ultimately we have to be kind, understanding and respectful, because this is a world we want to live in, and the only way to change it, is to lead by example.
How to become friends at work, on a professional basis. 
This is not an ad, this is for all you boss babes out there, who would like to up their game. 
The concept can not only be used in a client - advisor role, it can be used in any relationship that you have at work. Becoming a trusted advisor of your boss, may lead to more promotions, can get you better projects, and will make it more likely that your boss stands-up for you. 

Even if you have are doing well at work, this might help you understand why. 
The concept suggests that in order to have a high trustworthiness score, you have several factors in your equation, to gain that trust.
Watch the Link to Youtube Video

The Trust Equation

Credibility: Focuses on what expertise we have in a specific area, because we might have studied it, or have been working in the area for a long time. This is a tricky part, actually saying you are an expert does not make you credible, it actually makes you lose points in the self-orientation part. Three things you can do to enhance credibility are:
  • Do your homework 
  • Be open honest and transparent
  • Ask smart questions

Reliability: Is how much we stick to our word. When we say we will deliver something, we deliver it, not over deliver, and not under deliver, but deliver. It is easier to be reliable, if we make a lot of little commitments and keep them. Link to Youtube Video

Intimacy: Whenever someone shares something with you, they want to make sure that it gets treated with respect and propriety. It's not about sharing something private, (e.g. your clients kids names/birthdays) its about sharing something personal, (e.g. good and bad days, fears, ambitions etc). Whenever someone shares something personal with you, they want to make sure it doesn't get gossiped. They also want you to understand their feelings through empathy. Link to Youtube Video

Self-Orientation: This basically reflects how self-obsessed you are. Do you often think about: "Am I making a good impression? Am I going to win this argument? Am I going to make the sale?" Then your Self-Orientation Score is quite high. If however you ASK GOOD QUESTIONS, LISTEN and provide your counterpart with good insights, then your self-orientation is low, and your overall score is high. (Because the equation is being divided through a small number, the result is a large number.) Link to Youtube Video

In summary: This might come across as quite manipulative, however, it is only manipulative, if you do not try to be authentic while using these techniques. You should be interested in the other person, you should want to be trusted with personal information, and you should want to help your boss/ client. 

A few really good tips you can use right away, taken from the book:
(C) The Trusted Advisor - Charles H Green
  1. Listen and summarise, to show the speaker that you have understood. 
  2. It is always good to feel understood: Empathise and show the speaker that you understand, you don't have to agree, but try and find out where he/she is coming from. 
  3. Take note of the the speakers and your own feelings, actions and words. Ask if you notice an emotion: "John, you look distracted today, what going on?" - and build a strong intimacy bond.
  4. If you have an agenda proposal, ask for the clients input before you start. To create a buy in.
  5. Listen, and suggest a point of view. Use words such as: "I might be going out on a lim here but, ..." The point of view may be rejected, but it helps the client think.
  6. To create intimacy we have to put a piece of ourselves out there, don't confuse it with going to your therapist. It may or may not be reciprocated, but if it is, it created instant intimacy.
  7. Care about your clients issues. Maybe there is something that he/she is not seeing, and she needs some help to explore that.
  8. Ask good open ended questions. The goal is to hear what the client has to say in her/his own terms. The emotional subtext of open ended questions, is one of respect. The listener allows the speaker to set the frame of reference, his or her world view etc.
  9. Return calls within 10 minutes. This is the most trust creating thing you can do, no one expects it, but it shows how much the other person is valued. 
Top things to remind ourselves
  1. I don’t have to prove myself every 10 seconds
  2. I have a right to be here in this room, I can add value without worrying about it
  3. Shut up and repeat again and again, really, and then what happened?
  4. Repeat: Ohh what’s behind that?
  5. Have I earned the right yet to give an answer?
  6. Am I trying to win an argument? Turn it back into a conversation
  7. Take responsibility for the emotional outcome
  8. Don’t blame anybody for anything any time
  9. More value is added through problem definition, more than through answering the problem
  10. Just because the client asks a question, doesn’t mean its the right question to answer
  11. Don’t be insecure, if you don‘t know the answer say to yourself: Hey if I don’t know the answer, then this is a really neat question, lets get into it
  12. Is my tummy telling me something is wrong? My tummy is right, lets talk about it.
Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.