Peggy Grall is a Certified Executive Coach and former Psychotherapist with 19 years experience in the areas of helping individuals and organizations make significant change. Peggy has demonstrated her ability to assist individuals and organizations to explore and resolve complex personal and group issues, through working with organizations that are navigating mergers, moving facilities and initiating culture changes.
As a person who talks for a living, I love precise language; I admire people who can say volumes in a few words. It’s an art to be able to laser in on the meat of an issue, cast aside the fluff and lay bare the essence of your thoughts, in brief. It’s especially wonderful to have a conversation with someone with those skills. An artful communicator is easy to trust.
Susan Scott, author of Fierce Conversation, says that the conversation is the relationship. So, what are the elements of a conversation that engender trust? And what can people do or say in a conversation that will make people want to trust them enough to take action on what they’re saying?
We decide whom to trust in a variety of ways. Our first impression of someone contributes heavily to whether or not we will trust, and then follow him or her. Simple things like appearance, tone, stance and how much we smile or not can impact the initial trust that people feel towards each other.
Honesty is a great trust builder. Telling the truth in every situation, especially when the truth might not be flattering, is a sure fire way to get people on board with you. I confess that I get suspicious of people who load up conversations with unnecessary personal stories or gossip; I wonder why they’re saying what they’re saying, and what they say to others when I’m not there. I like to chat with people that are straight forward, transparent and are willing to be vulnerable. I especially like those qualities in a leader.
The big trust factors are consistency over time and integrity. Trust is earned and is often based on our past experiences with a person. Burn me one, shame on me…burn me twice – well, you know. Most people don’t trust someone immediately; they want to see how someone performs each time they encounter them. When there is inconsistency in a person’s behaviour, alarms go off and people take an emotional step backwards into safer territory.
Ghandi said, ‘You can’t do right in one area while doing wrong in another – life is an indivisible whole.’ When we see people behaving one way with one crowd and another when the next it makes us uneasy and distrustful. We generally trust someone new with something small; we take a bit of a risk with them, then if that works out, we trust them with larger parts of ourselves, and our lives.
When you’re trying to influence people to take action on what you say, all the trust factors come into play. People will judge your appearance, your non-verbal communication, look at your track record and evaluate what they know about your level of integrity. If you make simple requests, with openness and sincerity you’re more likely to get a following than if you try to impress or bluster your way through the conversation.
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