By Jacquelyn Smith
Let's begin with a caveat: You can't fake trust.
"Words not backed by action are meaningless," says Darlene Price, president of Well Said, Inc. and author of "Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results." "You can use the right words and phrases to sound 'trusting,' but language is no replacement for being a trustworthy person. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 'Who you are speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you're saying.'"
Price says the word "trust" comes the Old Norse word treysta, meaning "to rely on or have confidence in."
"The basis for a healthy, productive relationship is trust," she explains. "As a professional, it's critical to earn the trust of those with whom you work."
For example, as an employee, you need your boss to have confidence in your abilities before he or she will promote you; as a manager, you need your team to rely on your leadership before they'll follow; and as a speaker or presenter, you need your audience to believe in your message before they'll act on your recommendation.
"When people trust you, they're much more likely to believe in you, bond with you, and buy from you."
Here are 18 phrases professionals use to get others to trust them:
"Simple words that show you value the person generate positive emotions and set the stage for trust," says Price. Take the time to sincerely say to another, "Thank you, I really appreciate your efforts," or to a group, "Thank you for attending today's presentation. I appreciate your time and attention."
"Allow me to introduce myself to you. By way of background..."
Establishing credibility from the start is a key to earning trust with an audience.
"If you're addressing a group of people, and they do not personally know you, be sure to introduce yourself and briefly mention your credentials, or have another person properly introduce you," Price suggests.
Audience members - especially skeptical ones - need to hear why you're an authority on your topic including your name and title, relevant training or certifications, years of experience, and any publications, she says.
"What this means to you is..." or, "The bottom line for you is..." or, "The advantages to you are..."
To earn trust in the hearts of others, they need to know you have their best interests in mind. "From selling a solution or requesting funding to leading a project or giving a status update, be sure to communicate to listeners how they benefit from your actions."
Does your message save them time, reduce costs, improve productivity, boost profits, increase market share, or save lives? Be sure to tell them why they should care and how they will benefit.
"Like you, I care about this topic because..."
Transparency and camaraderie build trust.
"Make sure your listeners know you, too, are invested in the topic and have a personal connection to it. You're not just 'doing your job' or serving as a 'mouthpiece' for the message, you really care," Price explains. "What's at stake for you? How has the subject affected your life? If appropriate, share a brief personal story that illustrates your relationship to the topic."
"Yes," or, "I will," or, "Absolutely."
When it's appropriate to do so, give an affirmative response when others genuinely need and ask for your assistance.
"Imagine your boss asks, 'Can you send me your proposal by 3 p.m.? I need it for the customer meeting.' Or a customer asks, 'Can you help me solve this issue?' Helping others shows you care about them and that you're invested in the relationship." It's a sure way to earn their trust and foster good will, says Price.
Avoid tentative or begrudging replies such as, "I'm really busy, but I'll try." Or, "Maybe, I'll see what I can do." Words like "try" and "maybe" imply the possibility of failure and diminish another's ability to rely on you. "Even worse are phrases that jeopardize trust such as, 'That's not my problem,' or, 'That's not my job,'" she says.
"Scientific research indicates..." or, "The data shows..."
When possible, be sure to include concrete, quantitative studies, surveys, or data to support your message. "When your own opinion or experience are not enough to instill confidence and trust in your listeners, be sure to present facts, figures, and numbers to build your case," she suggests.
"The results speak for themselves," or, "The track record shows..."
Don't expect your audience to always take your word for it. Give them proof. Show them how, where, and for whom your proposal or recommendation has worked in the past.
"This may be a customer testimonial, your sales performance from last year, or a letter of recommendation," Price says. "You're essentially implying to the person, 'been there, done that - and I can get the same results for you.'"
Especially when you're speaking to critically minded decision makers, be sure to prove you've already achieved measureable outcomes for others, which instills confidence in your abilities quicker than anything.
"You and I share a common goal," or, "We share a common challenge."
By definition, a team is a group of people who come together to achieve a common goal. "When you communicate that you're on the same side as your listener, it lessens hostility and competition and fosters teamwork and trust," says Price.
"What do you think?" or, "You decide - I trust your judgment," or, "Great idea - let's do it."
When you show someone you trust them, they're more likely to trust you.
"Outstanding achievements are rarely a solo act. The best results depend on people helping each other. Therefore, trust is a two-way street," she explains. "Avoid the 'Do It Yourself' attitude; find ways to rely on others in the workplace. Show that you value and celebrate their input and give them opportunities to earn your trust."
"Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It conveys a sense of acceptance, compassion, and care," says Price. Some psychologists assert that a human being's deepest emotional need is to be heard and understood. If that's true, perhaps active listening and genuine empathy - above all - are the keys to establishing trust in a relationship.
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