Table of Contents Hide
- ESSENTIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF TRUST
- DEALING WITH THREE BASIC PERSONALITY TYPES
- ASKING QUESTIONS BUILDS TRUST AND CREDIBILITY
- RESPOND INSTEAD OF REACT
- USING THE RIGHT WORDS AT THE RIGHT TIME
- Second, drop the words that hold you back
- Third, use simple words.
- RISING ABOVE SHYNESS AND TIMIDITY
- ‘TURN AROUND THINKING’ PRODUCES POSITIVE RESULTS
- FIVE ACTION STEPS TO ESTABLISH TRUST AND CREDIBILITY
For several years Charles Schultz has celebrated the beginning of football season with a Peanuts story featuring Charlie Brown’s troubles with Lucy. The plot is always the same. Lucy offers to hold a football so Charlie Brown can practice his placekicking. But each year she jerks the ball away just as Charlie kicks through, causing him to fall to the ground.
We readers always know what will happen. The only suspense involves what Lucy will do or say to overcome Charlie Brown’s well-founded suspicions that this year will only be a repetition of the last.
For example, one year Lucy explained, “I represent an organization and I’m holding this ball as a representative of that organization.” Charlie reasoned that if she represents an organization, she must be sincere and so he came running full speed to kick the ball. Seconds later, as Charlie lay dazed from the impact of hitting the turf, Lucy explained, “This year’s football was pulled away from you through the courtesy of women’s lib!”
Most people find Charlie Brown’s troubles similar to their own. And in this case the problem involves trust. Should Charlie trust Lucy? How could he determine, before he committed herself to a forceful kick at the pigskin, whether he would score a field goal or end up on his back suffering from her taunts?
Few of us have to worry about girls offering to hold our footballs when we are out for a little kicking practice, but all of
us have to make hard decisions about whether, and how much, and with what, to trust other people.
ESSENTIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF TRUST
Let’s begin by considering the context of trust. Trust occurs only in relationships having certain characteristics.
The first is contingency. This describes situations in which the trusted person’s behavior affects the outcomes of the trusting person – in important ways. So there must be a willingness of the part of the trusting person to be vulnerable.
The second condition is predictability. This describes situations in which the trusting person has some degree of confidence in his expectations or predictions of the trusted person’s behaviors and/or intentions. Without predictability, hope may be present, but not trust. Consider a man carrying a large amount of money late at night through a section of town that is known for its high crime rate. If he hears footsteps in the shadows both ahead and behind him, he may hope for the best. However, he would have a much different experience if he knows who is there and can predict their behavior by trusting them not to rob him.
The third condition is alternative options. This describes situations in which the trusting person can do something other than trust, in which he has a choice whether to maintain or increase his vulnerability to the other person. And so, when a person is in a situation in which what happens to him is contingent on the behavior of the other, he has some basis for predicting how the other will behave. He has the option to behave in a way that will increase or limit the extent to which the other’s behavior will affect him; only then will trust occur.
Trusting behaviors are those that deliberately increase a person’s vulnerability to another person.
To attain a cognitive state of trust requires that the trusted person be perceived as both competent and well intentioned. Competence involves seeing the other’s knowledge, judgment, and abilities as adequate.
If you broke your leg, you probably would not trust your friend to set it for you. You may have no doubts about his good intentions, but you probably would prefer to wait for a doctor and rely on his competence. On the other hand, there are situations where people are known to be competent, but they are not trusted because they are not thought to be well intentioned. Some public officials have this problem.
DEALING WITH THREE BASIC PERSONALITY TYPES
Problems in communication often arise simply because people perceive and convey information differently. There are three basics, and very different, styles for communicating. The quickest way to establish trust and rapport with anyone is first to identify the types of people who tend to use each style. Here are some suggestions that will help you avoid misunderstandings.
The first is analytical. Analyzers may be difficult to get to know because they are highly articulate people who express themselves in complicated sentences and analytical terms.
They can be very adept at transmitting concepts and ideas. To establish trust very quickly with analyzers, just state the facts and get to the point quickly. They grasp ideas instantly and get bored and turned off by long explanations. Moreover, they respect people who speak accurately, know the details, and are organized.
The second type of communicator is emotional. Unlike analyzers, who use phrases such as “I think” and “I understand,” emotional people express themselves by saying. “This feels right” or “I sense that this is a good thing.” Because they operate on such a gut level, they may have trouble putting their feelings into words. When dealing with emotional types, be patient, supply lots of details, and allow them plenty of time to express their ideas. Encourage their feedback, and be liberal with your positive reinforcement.
The third type of communicator is visual. These types are good organizers, with a tendency toward perfectionism. Visual people often use expressions such as, “I get the picture” or “I see what you mean” or perhaps, “Look at this.” Your best approach with the visual type is to provide them with the overall picture of something by using descriptive phrases and, if possible, visual aids.
ASKING QUESTIONS BUILDS TRUST AND CREDIBILITY
No matter what type of communicator you’re taking with, there is an easy way to get them to start talking to you, and that is by asking questions.
Ask questions that appeal to the other person’s interest such as, “I hear you’re quite a football fan. I missed last Sunday’s game, but I hear that the Cowboys looked pretty good. Did you see any of the action on TV?”
Ask questions that lead to discussing a hobby: “I see you’re using a brand-new lens. Are you a photography buff like me?”
Ask questions that will prompt others to talk about their jobs: “I see from the parking decal on your car that you’re with XYZ Corporation. Are you in the management or production end of the Company?”
Ask questions that are some way deliver a compliment: “I like your suit. May I ask where you bought it? I’ve been looking for a good clothing store.”
Don’t ask questions that pry into someone’s personal life. Obviously, your instincts will warn you not to ask a direct question such as, “How can you manage the financial strain with two kids in college?” It’s only common sense to wait until the other person first signals a willingness to talk by making a comment such as, “Am I glad I planned for the kids’ education.” This remark is a door opener, and it leaves you free to reply. “I’ve got two kids in grade school now, and so I have to start planning for their college education. But I’m not sure how. How did you do it?”
When there are only two of you present, asking questions is a great starter toward building trust. When you’re with a group, you’ll have more success using a broader-based technique. Pick a topic that interests as many of the others as possible, and spark a discussion on that topic. Three of the easiest ways to do this are to
- get them to work together on solving a problem
- discuss a hobby or interest that the group has in common, and
- talk about a spectator experience you’ve shared together.
As you can clearly see, it’s easy to get group conversations started simply by getting others talking about a topic everyone finds interesting. All you have to do is speak long enough to get the conversation underway. You can then sit back, listen, and let the others do the talking. Use this approach for a while, and it soon will become instinctive. More importantly, people will quickly realize that when you’re around, good conversations start. You’ll be welcomed wherever you go.
RESPOND INSTEAD OF REACT
It’s almost uncanny the way people spot how you feel about them and how they react to your feelings. Show friendliness and they’ll return it, but take a dislike to someone and they’ll immediately dislike you in return. That’s why people who establish trust and credibility quickly always have a positive attitude toward other people. They know that their positive attitude will be spotted and returned in kind. These people unconsciously use some basic techniques to assure their popularity.
Unless you’re a hermit, there’s no way to avoid contacting other people every day. The way that you handle these contacts is the key to whether or not you enjoy them. Unfortunately, here’s one all too common way we handle contact with others: We bury our thoughts and feelings deep inside ourselves, put on a smile, and act pleasant.
Next, we get together with others who also hide within themselves. Then everyone stands at a safe distance from one other and bounces meaningless words off each other’s shells. Some people call this communication – I call it drapery talk, and a waste of time. It’s like eating the peel and throwing away the banana.
Here’s a more rewarding approach: Don’t just bounce words around, but respond to everyone’s uniqueness as a person. The easiest way to do this is by giving others your full attention by putting their feelings and thoughts ahead of your own. Do this for a while and you’ll soon automatically ask yourself questions such as,
- “What kind of personality does he have?
- Is he confident or hesitant, reserved or outgoing?
- What’s his general attitude – is he an optimist or a pessimist, liberal or conservative?
- When a new idea comes into the conversation, is his first reaction positive or negative?
Questions like these will quickly give you workable insights into other people. You’ll find it easier to respond and speak to each new person in a way he’ll understand. More importantly, you’ll show through your actions and your words that you recognize and respect each person’s uniqueness. Do this and he’ll respect and like you as a person in return.
When you want to be sure that you’ll create a positive impression in the other person’s mind, discuss a topic that interests him, not one that interests you. Another way to guarantee that you’ll be accepted is to put his inner needs first and your own second.
Many people have trouble clearly expressing what’s on their minds, and you can spot them easily. They’ll fumble for words, keep repeating the same thought, act hesitantly, and give you an intuitive feeling that they’re having a hard time communicating. When you spot such a person, you can help him by listening creatively to catch the basic though he’s trying to communicate, and then to help him express himself clearly and accurately.
USING THE RIGHT WORDS AT THE RIGHT TIME
Failure to establish trust and credibility is often due to not knowing how to use the right words at the right time. Here are some tips to learn to speak the other person’s language.
First, use words that move you forward
First, use words that move you forward. These are words that people like to hear. They make others feel good about you, and they tend to make others respond to you. Some of these words are you, yourself, yours, we, our, ourselves, sorry, promise, please, thank you, and excuse me.
There is a major communications company that has made it a corporate rule that all letters going out under its letterhead, regardless of who writes them, cannot be mailed if they contain the word I. Therefore the words “you” and “yours” really get a workout. The company knows that whomever it deals with will warm to such personal words. These words are always attention-getting; the moment you say them, the people whom you are talking to become more alert and more responsive.
Second, drop the words that hold you back
Second, drop the words that hold you back. When people hear these words, they tend to turn away from you, even though they may not understand why they do. Holding-back words are I, me, myself, my, later, and maybe. Those words usually indicate that you are communicating on your own terms not on the other person’s. The big difference here is point of view.
Speaking the other person’s language means seeing things from their perspective – that’s what they like and that’s what they appreciate. This doesn’t mean that you give in to others demands or give up your conviction or sell out. But it doesn’t mean that by your words you are putting yourself in their shoes, under their hat, and seeing through their eyes.
Third, use simple words.
Third, use simple words. This doesn’t mean that everything you say has to one syllable, but get rid of the tongue twisters and the hard-to- understand words if they aren’t in the other person’s vocabulary. No one knew this better than Winston Churchill. When he needed to rally the British to their country’s defense, he didn’t give them double-talk.
Instead, he told them in words that they understood, “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” Churchill shared what he head learned when he wrote, “All my life I have earned my living by words that I write and words that I speak. If I have learned about the use of words, what I know best and what counts most is this: of all the words I know, the short words are of most use. They are the words others know. They are the words that bring other men to know. And they are the words that move men.”
You cannot establish trust and credibility if you need an interpreter. Consider this memo that an insurance adjuster sent to the main office: “The pressure involved in getting depositions from on-site witnesses for both the claimant, and the disputing party has made it necessary to revise the suspense date set for arbitration of the findings upwards of three days with no slippage foreseen.” The transition is, “The full report will be on your desk on Thursday.” Remember the rule to keep it simple KISS.
Along with that, fit your words to the occasion. Depending on the customer, car salesmen know whether they should talk about style, comfort, beauty and safety, or horsepower and compression ratios. When you’re with a doctor, don’t try to impress with some big words you read in a medical book. Explain that you have a stomachache, and where it hurts when you breathe. The doctor will understand, and it’s very doubtful that the advice will be “to take ten grains of the acetyl derivative of salicylic acid and retire.” Rather, you’ll hear, “Take two aspirin and go to bed.”
The fourth point is not to wave red flag words
The fourth point is not to wave red flag words. These are words that arouse the other person’s defenses. These words would be the ones that oppose his belief systems in the areas of religion, politics, race and ethnic background, family, and economics. The key is to get to know the person and then avoid the words that you sense would rub him the wrong way.
This will not be a problem when you are communicating with someone who shares your beliefs. The trouble occurs when you are discussing an issue with one whose views are opposing. Again, this does not mean that you should sell out your principles or not discuss a particular subject. Just use discretion in choosing your words, and allow there to be a difference of ideas.
The fourth point is not to wave red flag words
The fourth point is not to wave red flag words. There’s nothing wrong with slang. Strong slang expressions can often be valuable in making a specific point. However, they tend to be dated quickly and to be
replaced by newer words or phrases. Certain slang expressions also carry political, emotional, or generational associations you might not wish to convey. They rarely serve you as well as the straightforward expression. “Crash in my pad” may be colorful, and perhaps the other person knows exactly what you mean. But you’ll communicate better with, “Why not stay over at my place?” Also, use foreign expressions sparingly, and only if you really know what they mean, so that when you do use them, they will work to your advantage.
The sixth point is to say what you mean.
The sixth point is to say what you mean. Don’t use weasel words or loophole words or words that sound like one thing but really mean something else. The only place for squirm-out words is in disclaimers.
For example, say, “Let’s have lunch together on Tuesday if it’s convenient” but not, “Why don’t we get together for lunch sometime?” The first says exactly what you mean, lunch together on Tuesday. The second almost says, “I really don’t care if we have lunch together or not.” Think of the times you’ve been startled by someone who has missed an appointment or stood you up and then said, “But I thought you meant…” Next time, say what you mean.
The seventh point is to mean what you say
The seventh point is to mean what you say. One way to really mess up your credibility is to have no intention of doing what you say you’ll do, or going where you’ll say you’ll go. Have you ever had someone say, “I’ll give you a call” and in the back of your mind you ask yourself.
“Should I wait to hear from you?” Words like these belong to the people who are all talk and no action. You may be tempted to use them because you know they are words that won’t let people pin you down. They are words and phrases such as, perhaps, we’ll see, sometime, let me think about it, I’ll try to get around to it – and there are hundreds more.
The point is, if you want to be credible and trustworthy, you also want to be pinned down and dependable. You want people to know that your word standsfor something, that you can be counted on. If you don’t mean what you say, then don’t say it.
The last point is to forget the profanity. The person who notices your profanity and resents it, or is offended by it, is often a person who uses it to excess and doesn’t realize the image he or she is protecting.
Don’t be tempted to be like that person. Stand out by being different. Ira Hayes, a very prominent executive and outstanding public speaker, has this to say about profanity: “You cheapen yourself when you use profanity. It isn’t needed; it can’t help you – so why dot it.
RISING ABOVE SHYNESS AND TIMIDITY
All through their lives many people fail to live up to their full potential as communicators. In fact, they actually hold themselves down – not because they lack ability, but simply because they lack faith in themselves. As we discussed earlier, self-confidence is the secret to establishing trust and credibility.
The way in which you think about yourself and the amount of belief you have in yourself sets the whole tone as to how much others can believe in you. Whenever you see someone holding himself down, you can be sure that his way of thinking is his own worst enemy.
There’s no need for this. Anyone can turn his thinking in the right direction. There are techniques that anyone can use to rise above common hang-ups that prevent him from extending himself to others and gaining their trust.
To rise above timidity, one must stop fearing the unknown. There’s no way anyone can escape from facing unfamiliar situations. Life moves so fast today, it’s impossible to live normally without running into new problems. So why not just accept the fact that you have to face new and different situations every day? Then, when you face an unknown, think objectively about the problem, and not subjectively about yourself.
‘TURN AROUND THINKING’ PRODUCES POSITIVE RESULTS
Many people are bashful and self-conscious. But they don’t let it get the best of them because they have learned “turnaround thinking”. They simply turn their thoughts 180 degrees away from themselves. They don’t worry about how other people may react to what they say and do; instead they think about other people – what they’re interested in, what they enjoy talking about. Soon they become so engrossed in the conversation that they completely forget their shyness.
Some people are like ostriches – they poke their heads in the sand whenever they face a forceful personality. This is easy to overcome. First, accept the fact that you have weaknesses, then realize that it’s uncomfortable when you’re surrounded by others and who are strong where you’re weak. At the same time, accept the fact that you have strengths as well as weaknesses.
Everyone has his own uniqueness. Accept these two simple facts and you’ll clearly see that there’s no logical reason to feel inferior. When you feel yourself being overawed by a strong personality, turn off your emotions and turn on your logic. Simply remember that you are a perfectly normal person with strengths and weaknesses, and so are others.
The play-it-safe person says little and carefully measures every word. You can’t go through life playing it safe – it robs you of all your excitement and interest. A free-flowing graciousness and an honest interest in people will certainly help you advance faster than a play-it-safe attitude. Allow your enthusiasm to sparkle through as you show genuine interest and concern for others. They will reward you with their trust in your credibility.
FIVE ACTION STEPS TO ESTABLISH TRUST AND CREDIBILITY
- Identify the type of communicator you’re talking with, and design your language to what he will most easily understand and accept. Subtly match that person’s posture, energy level, and eye contact.
- Show that you understand the other person’s point of view. Express empathy in saying, “I understand how you feel.”
- Ask for clarification if you feel there are discrepancies in communication. Do it in a non-threatening way, such as by saying, “I want to be sure I understand you. What I hear you saying is…”
- Realize that trust cannot be forced. Sometimes it is helpful to discover reasons why the other person does not trust. Previous negative experiences may be keeping them from extending trust to you.
- Trusting behavior on your part may produce trust in being
extended by the other person. Extend friendliness, warmth, sincere interest in their problems, and they will not doubt your credibility when you are extending help to them.
As you begin to use the techniques we’ve shared with you in this chapter, you will find that the level of trust and credibility extended to you by others will increase day by day. You’ll be identified as a person who is a sincere, honest, capable communicator. One who deserves trust and credibility? This is an essential quality of the Super Persuader.