Many people are very familiar with the concept of trust when it comes to personal relationships. Yet, what about professional relationships?
I have been experiencing more and more, companies that struggle with trust. If there isn’t good trust in the company culture, it will lead to internal and external challenges. When I think of companies that struggle with trust, it wasn’t one big situation, it was many issues over time. Ron Zemke who wrote Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service said that when working with customers you should practice the following techniques to build trust:
Communication is a great example and one that I find to be the most common for leading to lack of trust. When employees and guests feel like they know what is going on, it builds trust. When employees are told that the company operates on a “need to know” basis, it can often make people feel like things are being hidden and compromises transparency. Depending on how lacking the communication is, it can create a fear-based environment. These pieces then leak over to guests, such as employees not being proactive in communication and then creating upset customers because the guest felt like local details were hidden from them, such as not being told the home they rented was still having construction happening. The best thing we can do is be transparent and act out of love for ensuring the guest feels informed and is able to make the decision for themselves. When we don’t share such information, it represents acting out of fear. Fear that the guest won’t rent the home and revenue will be lost.
When expanding on developing openness, I think of the importance of getting vulnerable. Vulnerability can look different to everyone. For reservation sales calls, it might be sharing something personal that makes a connection with the caller. Such as growing up in the same community they are coming from or being an avid hiker and sharing some of their favorite local hikes. Keeping in mind we don’t want to make the caller regret getting vulnerable by sharing something that makes their situation pale in comparison. This can be when a caller shares that they are coming because a family member is in the last phases of their wife’s life, due to cancer and the employee shares that they have had all their family members pass from cancer in a two-year period. For leaders, getting vulnerable might be sharing the underlining issue that has been making them unapproachable or unhappy over the last year, leading to stress in the company. When we get vulnerable, it builds trust. Yet we are in a world that doesn’t always embrace vulnerability and sometimes makes people feel like it makes them look weak instead of confident. If you have the mindset of fearing getting vulnerable, I encourage you to watch Brene Brown’s Ted Talk on vulnerability. It changed my life! We are living in a world where people are craving connection and vulnerability builds connection.
Showing warmth includes empathy and compassion. If a potential guest calls and shares they are bringing their mother for her last trip back to the community where they grew up, acknowledge how hard that must be. You want to make sure you don’t simply say nothing at all, instead say, “I can’t even imagine how hard this must be for you and your family.” You also don’t want to put the silver lining on it by saying, “At least she will get to see her home town for the last time.” For leaders this can look like being compassionate when an employee has had something terrible happen in their personal lives. As well as believing them when they share that they need time for a personal situation. Another example that comes to mind is sharing about another employee’s situation to a different employee. Brene Brown references keeping information that is personal to others in the vault. Some people think that talking about other people and their issues builds connection, yet it creates distrust. I always wonder, if you are talking about someone else to me, what are you saying to others about me?
Always stick with the truth! It sounds pretty simple, right? Yet, often I hear about avoiding information which can translate into not telling the truth. If a house has dated furniture and décor, don’t sell it like it has just been remodeled. Use words like rustic or comfortable. As leaders, please don’t encourage your employees to lie about homes or local construction projects that have been happening. It always comes back around, referencing a favorite quote, “What we allow, we encourage.” When such situations are communicated as not sharing, it will carry through to employees and how they communicate with guests.
Confidence comes through in words, tone and body language. Using a good amount of “ums” when communicating may express a lack of confidence similar to dead air. I remember a past manager that used to say, “Bad on me,” when he would try new things and they didn’t work out. Instead show confidence about being willing to try new things and learning from them as well with being okay when failure happens. Brainstorm with the team on how it could have been done differently and use it as a trust and team building experience. There is a difference between being humble and lacking confidence.
Roy Lewicki and Edward C. Tomlinson from Ohio State University found the following techniques for cultivating trust in working relationships:
Simon Sinek believes that a team is not a group of people working together. A team is a group of people who trust each other. I encourage everyone to think about these different concepts of trust and dig deep to see where you can improve your trust techniques as an employee or a leader. As well as do what you say you are going to do to build reliability.
“Trust is the glue of life. It is the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” Stephen R Covey