Trust is as necessary to a business or professional relationship as oil is to an engine; without it, eventually everything grinds to a halt or comes apart. (And of course it is essential in personal relationships as well.) So what is trust exactly?
A Wharton/State Street Study identified three kinds of trust that are important to relationships.
1. Trust of Someone’s Competence
Of course, our clients want first and foremost to know we can do the job and that we can deliver what we promise. Clients want a dentist who uses the latest techniques and technology, a financial adviser who will make them money (or at least keep them from losing a lot when the market is turbulent) and a coach who will teach them the skills they need to know how to increase business, create a motivated team, or build a solid practice.
2. Trust in Someone’s Ethical Conduct and Character
Pretty obvious that our clients want to be confident we aren’t going to rip them off. A fundamental yet critical question is: “Do I trust you not to take advantage of me or to steal my money?”
3. Trust in Someone’s Empathic Skills and Maturity
In today’s marketplace, it isn’t enough to appear competent and trustworthy. Our clients are sophisticated and want exceptional service—including a kind of understanding and personal treatment that includes being listened to and understood. “If I reveal personal things about myself or my family, I need to trust that you, my advisor or coach, will handle that in way that is comfortable for me.”
A strong empathetic or relationship competence (think emotional intelligence!) may be the most critical area of trust, because without it the professional relationship is more fragile than it appears, and chances are we won’t be the ones to notice it’s weak or failing. (Research has proven again and again that there is a tremendous gap between how much trust our clients actually feel and what we think they feel.) Without a strong trust factor, there is little chance of enthusiastic referrals, loyalty in tough times or complete client follow through on professional advice.
Few professionals are able to develop relationship trust beyond the base level they just “naturally” attain with clients. Fewer still are reasonable judges of the impact of their particular brand of empathy. If this is a new area for you, you’re not alone. Most professionals are trained in numbers, the law, or some other logical, left-brain skills. Relationship building isn’t just a natural skill or there would be fewer divorces and having this skill wouldn’t be a professionally competitive advantage. There are some fairly simple skills you can learn that will boost your “empathy competency” with a minimal investment of time and energy. My clients have been stunned by how quickly they have been able to learn and implement ideas. Often the day after our coaching session, they tell me: “I tried your suggestion and it worked!”
Excellent client rapport builds thriving, resilient practices. Add these skills to your toolbox for increased business. Side benefits often include better communication with employees, colleagues and family, and less angst and more satisfaction in your work. To stand out in this competitive marketplace, we can help you become a professional who clients are excited to talk about. We teach our clients how to increase interpersonal awareness, gain comfort in using emotionally empathic responses in financial, medical or legal conversations and thereby boost trust and client loyalty. Call us!