What is the most important in building trust?

As a business owner, you know that trust is essential for success. Without it, customers will be hesitant to do business with you, and employees will be less likely to work hard for you. But how do you build trust in your business? It can be difficult to create and maintain, but there are a few key things you can do. In this article, we'll discuss more than one way you can create trust in your business and make sure your customers and employees always feel confident about doing business with you. However, we will key on the ONE THING that will lead to failure if you fail to improve it. It is the one thing that is easy to forget. It is the one thing that will cost you more than anything else in trust building.

Let me tell you a story.

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A Story

I was sitting around a conference room table in a financial advisory firm as part of the advisory team. The couple we were meeting with was processing several different issues related to their family, their finances, and their future. My colleague was much more experienced than I, and it showed.

As the couple shared their story, they would often pause for a moment to collect their thoughts. In those quiet gaps, I simply couldn't help myself. I would interject an encouragement or a small story of my own. My intent was benevolent. I didn't want to "leave them hanging" in the awkward quiet moments. What I didn't realize is that I was killing the trust-building part of our work together. Then I watched the senior advisor do something completely different, and he had to cut me out of the conversation to do it.

He would simply reflect to the clients what he had just heard them say thoughtfully. And then...well, and then he did nothing. He sat there quietly. He gave me the nonverbal cue to shut up. What happened next?

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The clients worked through the quiet space on their own and began to talk about deeper issues. They began to share the more important problems they were trying to solve. At that moment, I realized I had been stealing from them what they really needed.

They needed to be listened to.

I was trying to advise, to encourage, to engage. What they needed, though, was to be listened to. Without the long pause, without the open question or without the willingness to stay out of their way and let them process aloud, they simply couldn't get what they needed.

I had been taught a serious life lesson about the value of listening. I discovered that my colleague had become a genius in his listening skills. I discovered I had a lot to learn.

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The importance of empathy in business

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. It's often described as walking in someone else's shoes or feeling what they feel. Listening is the gateway to empathy. You must become a good listener to become a great leader. Empathy is important in business because it allows us to understand our customers and employees on a deeper level. When we can see things from their perspective, we can create a more positive and productive work environment. We will be able to more efficiently solve their problems.

Here is the key. You cannot empathize with someone you are not willing to listen to. You must be present.

Three ways empathy will grow your business

Building empathy is synonymous with building trust, and this has been shown to have several measurable benefits for businesses. This is especially true for those of us who advise professionally. These include:

  1. Improved Customer Experience
  2. Better Team Culture
  3. More Efficient Problem Solving


Improved Customer Experience

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First and foremost, empathy allows a business to connect with its customers on a more personal level. By understanding the customer’s feelings and emotions, a business can provide a more satisfying experience that builds trust and loyalty. We all want to build a trusting relationship with the person we are doing business with.

According to PwC, 73% of all people point to customer experience as an important factor in their purchasing decisions, just behind price and product quality. Yet only 49% of U.S. consumers say companies provide a good customer experience today. There is room for improvement for all of us. Learning to listen to your customers is the first step.

One way to listen to your customers is to use surveys. Digital surveys are great if they are short and not used too often. What have you asked your best customers recently in a survey? Sometimes it is better to serve in person or on the phone. It is incredibly rewarding for a client to know their feedback is valuable. They have incredible wisdom about many things. What have you learned from them recently? This is a great tool in becoming a good listener, and it will build trust over time if used wisely.

Another way to be a better active listener is to avoid offering quick answers. Instead, ask more clarifying questions. "I heard you say this ... can you expand that a little more so I can understand it better?"


Better Team Culture

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One of the best ways to ensure that empathy becomes an important part of your company culture is to make sure that it's emphasized from the top down. If leaders are empathy-driven and put importance on relationships with others, their employees will likely follow suit. We want our whole team to be good listeners. You can also create empathy-focused team meetings where employees discuss challenges they faced and how they were able to resolve them by empathizing with others. This type of meeting allows employees to learn from each other and builds trust within the team.

One of the best ways to create a company culture that values empathy and trust-building relationships with others is by setting the example yourself. Listen more. Talk less. Demonstrate that you are paying attention. Be a good listener.

If you want your employees to be responsive and understanding, you need to be as well. Be patient when listening to others and try to see things from their perspective. This can help create an environment where people feel comfortable sharing ideas and solving problems together.

Another way to foster empathy and trust in the workplace is by organizing team-building exercises. These activities can help employees get to know each other better and learn how to work together more effectively. When employees trust and respect one another, they're more likely to cooperate and collaborate. This can lead to a more productive and positive work environment.


More Efficient Problem Solving

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When you are in conversations with your customers, concentrate on active listening. When you show that you care about what they have to say, customers will feel appreciated and valued. This can lead to increased loyalty and a stronger connection with your brand. It will also lead to better problem-solving.

I have heard it said that the two keys to improving leadership is to understand how you make decisions and how you solve problems. If this is true (and I think it is), then one way to improve both areas is to create more collaborative problem-solving moments.

To accomplish this, give clients more opportunities to contribute to the solutions as they see them. This is what sets great advisors apart: they always investigate the options with their clients. They don't just offer one solution to them.

Another way is to create problem-solving round tables with your teams. Host a brainstorming session with your team where you first work together to identify the most obvious problem that needs to be dealt with. This in and of itself is empowering because everyone gets to weigh in on what is creating friction. Secondly, ask for insights, ideas, and solutions the team sees that might help solve the problem. Let your team become your planning partners. Look for commonalities and co-create an action plan. Let people volunteer to take leadership and create a time-based goal that everyone can buy into. This creates trust because you are taking the time to listen and co-create.

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It all begins with trust

Empathy is a powerful tool that can be used to build trust-based relationships with customers and employees. Frances X. Frei and Anne Morriss have become thought leaders in this conversation. Their article in the Harvard Business Review is worth the time. Want to go even deeper? Buy the book: Unleashed: The Unapologetic Leader's Guide to Empowering Everyone Around You

When businesses show empathy, they can understand the other person’s point of view and connect with them on a deeper level. This connection leads to increased understanding, communication, and cooperation. As a result, businesses can benefit from greater growth and development. Creating a company culture that values empathy will help your team members feel appreciated and understood, which will encourage them to work together more effectively. It will lead to much more efficient problem solving.

Additional things to consider around the value of listening:

1. Trust is essential in any relationship - personal or professional.

2. Trust can be built through listening with the intent to care.

3. Active listening to the other person's point of view shows respect, even if you don't agree with it

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Listening leads to growth

By listening, you create an open and positive communication channel that can help resolve conflicts and build stronger relationships. If you're like most business owners, you work hard to create a trusting environment for your employees and customers. But have you ever thought about how listening can help build trust with everyone?

Because you coach as part of your work, this is mission critical. When people feel heard, they feel valued and respected. This can lead to better communication and stronger relationships. So the next time someone has something important to say, make sure you take the time to listen. You may be surprised at the results!

What tips do you have to share about building trust?

 H.B. Pasley, Growth Advocate®