How Trust is Really Built

I’m not sure why but I’ve seen a ton of blog posts and various articles lately about building trust. Most of them are about particular words you either should or shouldn’t use if you want to build trust. 

Some of them talk about tone of voice or making eye contact when you want someone to know you’re being particularly truthful. I love that word combo “particularly truthful.”

Imagine someone writing about building trust and in the article seeming to indicate that sometimes you’re more truthful than others. When you want to convince someone you can be trusted then you should be “particularly truthful.” They don’t explain what you should be the rest of the time so I’m left to wonder about it. 

What surprises me about every single article and post I’ve read the last few weeks on building trust, and there have been many of them, is that not a single one of them talked about being trustworthy. The talk about using “trustable” words and phrases. A few even talked about behaving in a certain way to convince people you can be trusted. 

But not one said to build trust by actually being trustworthy. 

To me being trustworthy is saying exactly what you mean and doing exactly what you say. All the time. It’s about honoring your commitments, every commitment. All the time. 

When your words match your actions, even if not everyone agrees with them, you will be trusted. 

If you’re forced to use certain words for people to trust you then I’d have to say it’s possible you’re not trustworthy. If you have to behave in any other way than being your normal self then it’s very possible that people shouldn’t really trust you. 

If you want to be trusted then don’t say yes when you know your actions are going to show you meant no. Don’t commit to doing something today when you know darn well it’s unlikely you’re going to be able to do it today. 

Trust isn’t built on what we say, it’s built on what we do. There’s no need to read a bunch of articles on how to be trusted. All you need to do is be trustworthy. 

One other thing, if you’re wondering how you can tell if someone else can be trusted there is only one sure way to know. Trust them, they will quickly show you if your trust is deserved or not. 

On a another subject…I’m trying something new over on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day, people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing leadership topics, sales tips and ideas for better overall relationships. I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than regular Twitter followers. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

My goal with SuperFollowers is to build a better connection, one where I can perhaps help more and have a greater impact. I’m hoping it gives me a chance to mentor to a wider audience. It’s still new, we’ll see how it works. It’s a $5 dollar investment that may just be the extra “push” you need to get to where you want to be. I’d be honored to be able to help get you there. 

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, and if you are, be sure to let me know how I’m doing and how I can be of even more help. 

Is a Lie Always a Lie?

So you’re in sales and the company you work for has been caught in an apparent lie. So now what?

My first recommendation is to take a breath. It’s amazing how much breathing helps in almost every situation. One way it helps is to give you time to think. There are are few things in particular that you should be thinking about. 

First, was the “apparent” lie really a lie. It could just be a misunderstanding born of poor communication. When additional facts are understood the “lie” may not be a lie at all. When you’re shocked by something you find hard to believe get as many facts as possible before labeling any information a lie. 

If it turns out that it was in fact a lie then you need to determine whether it was a lie created by malice or a lie created by incompetence. Neither is good but somehow, at least for me, I find it better to be lied to by an incompetent person than a truly deceitful one. Determining if it was a lie that came from incompetence or malice may come down to a gut call. Trust your gut, always trust your gut. Those instincts or that intuition are developed from your life experiences. If you can keep your emotions in check then your instincts are very often correct. 

If you decide that the lie is more of a mistake caused by incompetence then you have to decide if it’s a “one off” kind of lie or if a pattern of incompetence causes this kind of thing to happen often. Remember, if you’re representing this company in the marketplace your reputation is on the line as well and to your customers, a lie is a lie is a lie. They don’t really care where it came from. 

If you decide that the lie was a pure intentionally fabricated misstatement then you have some tough choices to make. You have to determine if you’re willing to work for that kind of organization and the kind of people who run it. You also have to understand that supporting the lie, either by ignoring it or worse, repeating it, makes you a liar as well. The only thing I’ll say about that is if you’re lying to get business then you may make some money but you’ll never be a success. 

And the lies will be exposed eventually, they ALWAYS are. 

Let’s not forgot about the what may be the worst lie of all, the “half-truth” lie. Have you ever watched a movie or TV show with courtroom scenes? Remember the oath that witnesses must swear to? They swear to not just tell the truth but to tell the “whole truth.” 

Lord Tennyson said, “That a lie which is half a truth is ever the blackest of lies. That a lie which is all a lie may be met and fought with outright; but a lie which is part a truth is a harder matter to fight.” 

Professional salespeople tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. If you’re not doing that then you fail at the first test of professional selling, and that’s the test the matters most. 

How to Make People Trust You

If you were to take the title of this post literally it would be my shortest post ever. That’s because you cannot MAKE someone, anyone, trust you. That’s not within your control.

But what is within your control is making yourself trustworthy. You have control over doing things that people will feel makes you a safe bet in the trust area. You also have control, complete control, over not doing things that would cause people to lose trust in you.

If you want to be seen as trustworthy then you must honor your commitments. You must do what you say you will do and you must do it when you said you would. Every time you fail in this area you cast doubt on the next commitment you make. It doesn’t take long before your commitments are worthless. Remember that…it doesn’t take long.

Be honest. Obviously not lying requires you to tell the truth. Being honest is more than not lying. Being honest requires that you tell the entire truth. Hiding details that matter is lying. Very often being completely honest is very difficult. If you have a dictionary handy check out the definition of difficult. Then look up the definition of impossible. You’ll see that “difficult” is not the same as impossible. So be honest if you want to be trustworthy.

Be timely. Said another way, show up when you said you would. Always! Punctuality matters and calling ahead from your cell phone to say “you’re running late” is a poor substitute to honoring another person’s time by being on time yourself. If people can’t trust you with something as basic as being on time they will doubt everything else about you as well. They really will.

Only tell your secrets. Most people love it when someone tells them a secret. They love it so much that they can’t wait to tell the secret to someone else. Don’t be a quidnunc. If someone trusts you enough to share their secret with you then keep it a secret. There probably isn’t a faster way to destroy the trust of someone than to share something they told you in confidence.

Remember, the people you gossip with today are the same people who will gossip about you tomorrow. A quidnunc is a person who loves to gossip. Are you one of those? Nobody likes to admit to gossiping but most everybody gossips. Want to destroy trust? Gossip. It’s like a nuclear bomb to trust.

Admit when you’re wrong. It’s almost funny when someone who is clearly wrong refuses to admit it. Almost funny. If you don’t have the confidence in yourself required to admit you’re wrong then how can anyone else have confidence in you? Dale Carnegie said, “when you’re wrong admit it quickly and emphatically.” Admitting to a mistake or admitting to being wrong about something you said is a trust builder. People won’t have to double check you because they know you’re double checking yourself.

Trust is the basis for all successful relationships. But even the strongest trust is fragile. It needs constant attention and effort. You can’t make someone trust you but you can make it easy for them not to.

The good news is you can also make it easier for them to see you as someone they should trust. It takes effort, it takes time, it takes consistency, and it takes intentionality.

You have what it takes to be trustworthy. The question is, will you do what it takes?

How Matters

I like to win! I enjoy success. I also know there are things more important than always winning and always succeeding. 

 

For me, and I know some will call me naive because of this, but for me how you win is just as important as winning itself. Success at the expense of your integrity isn’t really success at all. Now before you ask me to define success let me say that the definition of success is a very personal thing. But no matter your own definition of success if you cheated, lied or stole your way to it then your “success” is nothing to be proud of. 

 

No where in the Bible does it say that money is evil. What it does say is that the love of money is the root of all evil. Loving money, or the success the comes with it, at the expense of anything or anyone cannot be true success.

 

In the hit 1987 movie Wall Street, the character Gordon Gekko made a speech where he said “Greed is Good.” The line became famous but too many people apparently forgot that they were watching a movie. They believed the line as if it were straight out of scripture. 

 

It was frankly a line that many people wanted to believe. It allowed them to balance unethical behavior with the “fact” that greed was good. 

 

Well let’s set the record straight. Greed is not good. Unethical behavior is not good. Trading your integrity for the appearance of success is not good. Winning at all cost is not winning at all. 

 

Winston Churchill once said that “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

 

If you truly want success then don’t try to balance how much of your integrity you’re willing to sacrifice to have it. Instead balance what you get with what you give. Don’t just work to make a living, work to make a life. 

 

I’ll never forget what my 7th grade teacher once told me. His name was Cyril Paul. 7th grade was a while ago for me and I don’t remember many, if any, of my teachers who came before or after him. To say he was an impactful teacher would be an understatement. What he told me was that “what” I did with my life would be of little consequence when compared with “how” I did it. 

 

The fact is that too many times in my life I have forgotten those words. The result has never been anything to make me proud of myself. But I always eventually come home to those words to get myself back in balance. 

 

I’m afraid too many of our world “leaders” either never had those words spoken to them or they have completely forgotten them. 

 

“How” matters. It matters in everything you say and do in your life. 

 

Be a person of integrity. If your leaders are “win at all cost” kind of leaders then lead up and hold them accountable for “how” they achieve their success. Whether they are leaders in your company, your church or your government make sure you hold them to very high standards. 


Always remember “how” matters for you as well so hold yourself to those very high standards too.

Are you a Trusted Leader?

Emerson said, “Every great institution is the lengthened shadow of a single man. Their character determines the character of the organization.” (today we would say “person” instead of man but the point remains the same) 

 

So how would you answer the following two questions? Are you the person in your organization that Emerson was talking about? If you are then is your integrity always above reproach? By the way, I should probably point out that you either have integrity all the time or you don’t have integrity at any time. Integrity is not a part time job.

     

If your integrity is indeed above reproach then you have the opportunity to lead others, really lead. Maybe before you answer those two questions you should consider a little research: Only 45% of 400 managers in a Carnegie-Mellon survey believed their top management was always truthful; a third distrusted their immediate bosses. Current research says that 85% of employees across all businesses and industries are actually demotivated by their “leader.” 

 

What does that survey have to do with you?  Maybe nothing, but maybe, just maybe, you could consider it a wake-up call. A call telling you that you must be especially diligent in making certain that you live by the high standards that you expect from those who you hope to lead. Perhaps the survey results can serve to remind you that you have to work every day to earn the trust and respect of your people. You should never lose awareness that your people are always watching to see if your words match your actions. 

     

Consider as well this fact: Integrity results in a solid reputation, not just an image! Before you answer the questions above, ask yourself these questions: Are you the same person no matter who you are with? Do you make decisions that are best for others when another choice would benefit you? Are you quick to recognize others for their efforts and contributions to your success? (In writing?) 

     

You see, image is what people think you are, integrity is what, and who, you really are. Asking yourself these three questions can help keep you on track and ensure that your image reflects who you truly are.

     

Here is one reason integrity is so important for a leader: Integrity has high influence value, if you have the ability to influence others than your ability to lead is unlimited. Integrity helps a leader be credible, not just clever. Effective leadership is not based on being clever; it is based on being consistent. No one can fool all of the people of all of the time, insincerity can’t be covered up. Leaders who are sincere don’t have to advertise the fact.

   

Integrity is a hard-won achievement, it takes a long time to establish it with your team and you never fully complete the task. Your team expects four things from you on a consistent basis: honesty, competence, vision and inspiration. Those areas all impact your integrity. 

     

Ask something who knows you well what areas of your life they see as consistent (you do what you say) and what areas they see as inconsistent (you say but don’t always live.) If you don’t like their answer remember, you can change, you can become the leader you want to be, but also remember, you will only become what you are becoming right now.

    

So, now it’s time. Go ahead, answer the two questions in the first paragraph and then do whatever it takes to be certain your answer is always, always, yes.

What is This Integrity Thing?

Honesty. Credibility. Integrity. Many so called experts seem to think they are all basically the same thing. A horse a piece. Six of one, half dozen of the other. Apples to apples. No difference at all. 

I disagree. 

Integrity is deeply personal, it is who you are, inside. 

If matching your words and actions lead to credibility, as I believe they do, then integrity is when your words and actions BOTH match your deepest held beliefs. ALWAYS!

You see, you either have integrity all the time or you don’t have integrity at all. I completely understand that by that definition very few people truly have integrity. I also understand that I am NOT among those few. 

I’m a work in progress… deal with it.

I’m not writing this post to admit to or announce my shortcomings. Those who know me best are fully aware of my foibles of which there are many. 

I’m writing this so that whoever reads it can understand that they too are a work in progress and that it’s okay. While it doesn’t make you perfect it does make you human and that’s a good thing. There is no need to pretend that you are perfect, in fact, pretending that you are actually subtracts from your integrity.

 As I plan some personal goals for 2016 I’m going to work hard to see everyone else as the same work in progress that I am. I’m going to assume that they also want to be better and I’m going to cut them a whole lot more slack than I have in the past. I’ll bet I will be happier then when I hold others to standards that I can’t meet.

Never use the fact that you don’t have integrity all the time as an excuse for not having integrity at all. Fight to be the person you would admire, the person you can admire in every circumstance. You will fall short at times but don’t use that as an excuse for not trying. 

You and I may not have integrity according to my very tough definition but that doesn’t mean we can’t come closer to it than most. Do what you truly believe to be right, live your values, makes the tough, often less fun choices and you’ll be on your way to being the person you truly want to be.

Why 360 Reviews Seldom Work

imageFor those of you unfamiliar with the term “360 Review” let me explain. A 360 review is a tool that companies use to evaluate their employees at various levels of the organization. A mid-level manager for instance will be provided feedback from their own direct reports, from colleagues at a similar level within the organization and from their direct supervisor. They may or may not receive feedback from others higher within the organization as well.

The idea is to get a well rounded “picture” of the person from different levels of the organization. A person who interacts well with people above them in an organization may be a horrible boss to those below them. That’s why a review from just one part of an organization provides an incomplete view. You need feedback from all around an organization, hence the term “360.”

Once this complete picture is developed the individual being reviewed should have a good idea of their strengths and weaknesses, other people’s perception of them, and a good understanding of where their developmental opportunities are.

The key words in that previous sentence are “should have.” The concept of 360 reviews is great, the execution seldom is. In fact, the execution of these types of reviews is almost always lacking. They nearly always fail to accomplish the intended objective. 

They fail for two primary reasons. First, many people will not provide honest, open, and sincere feedback. While nearly every company claims that the feedback is anonymous it too often isn’t. Either the person being reviewed figures out where the feedback came from by what was written or the review is so bad that the Human Relations Department gets involved and inadvertently “exposes” the reviewers. 

When word gets around that one person’s feedback wasn’t in fact anonymous then it is assumed that nobody’s feedback is anonymous. From that point forward all 360 feedback is tainted… and far less valuable. 

In a very unscientific survey I asked about 30 people from a dozen or so companies if they believed the 360 review process was truly anonymous in their organization. The answers ranged from “they hope so” to “absolutely not.” Not one could say with certainty that their name wouldn’t eventually be attached to the feedback they provided. Not one said they would provide completely open and honest feedback either.

The other primary reason 360 reviews fail is that way too often the person being reviewed has no real interest in getting better. They claim to want to get better and are even willing to get better so long as they don’t actually have to change any of their behaviors. Unfortunately getting better means something must change and if it is you who needs to get better then you MUST accept some change in your life.

Thankfully there are some people who really do want to improve themselves and they will use what they can from the feedback to actually try to improve. But in an environment where the quality of the feedback is suspect even they will take it with a rather large grain of salt.

All change is hard but personal change is the hardest of all. When the change is driven by perceived negative feedback it can be nearly impossible to change. That’s why feedback from a 360 review so seldom leads to real change; the person being reviewed too often perceives even well-intended comments on improvement opportunities to be negative feedback. 

There are certainly other issues with the 360 review process but those are the big ones. Once broken the 360 review process can be nearly impossible to fix.

Just so we’re clear, I am most certainly NOT an HR professional. I can’t say with certainty that there are better developmental tools available than the 360 review. I just know that without a doubt that there needs to be.