Welcome to the July 2008 Carnival of Trust! The Carnival of Trust is a monthly, traveling review of ten of the last month’s best posts related to various aspects of trust in the world. My job this month was to pick those ten posts for you and provide an introduction to each post that makes you want to click through and read more. How’d I do?
1. Sex, religion, and politics are widely taught as the three topics to avoid in any relationship. Paul McCord, who writes the Sales and Management Blog, begs to differ – at least on the political front. Paul invites an engaging discussion on the downsides of avoiding discussions of politics with sales prospects. Referring to the upcoming U.S. presidential election, Paul asserts “Many of us will spend the next few months doing a delicate dance of avoidance, trying to offend no one while insisting that we are open, honest, trustworthy individuals, intent only on meeting the prospect’s needs and becoming trusted advisors. We’ll try to build relationships based on getting to know our client while allowing them to get to know only three quarters of us.” I hadn’t thought of it that way and I couldn’t agree more.
2. Check out Bruce Rasmussen’s engaging personal tale called “Trust and the $5 Muffin Refund.” Bruce combines forthrightness and whimsy throughout this post, beginning with a marketer’s definition of trust (which he claims to paraphrase):
A can trust B if B has the opportunity to rip A off – and chooses not to do so.
Embedded in a story about muffins are some pretty provocative questions that Bruce asks about our own organizations’ proclivity to “do the right thing” by our customers.
3. I love Mark Slatin’s wry commentary as much as his insights on selling and trust. He opens Slow Down to Sell: Get Results by Creating Value Before the Call with the following: “After a recent sales call, you had a strange feeling that you didn’t really connect with the buyer. You got all of your key selling points out, but they didn’t seem excited about anything but the collapsible Koozie with your company logo.” We’ve all been there in one way or another.
To the question, “What went wrong?” Mark suggests that value creation was missing. He provides three specific areas to research before you even meet your buyer – all fundamental and yet often overlooked. Mark also reminds us that relationships aren’t linear: “While a defined selling process designed to create buyer value from start to finish is an important part of the selling success, particularly in more complex sales, the overarching goal is to build a trusting relationship. The value creation process helps provide a roadmap.” Makes me wonder if the road to hell is paved with collapsible Koozies.
Title: Slow Down to Sell: Get Results by Creating Value Before the Call
4. Can you trust your lawyer? Jordan Furlong of Law21 says absolutely, even daring to propose that “lawyers are amazingly trustworthy as individuals, possessing (in my perhaps biased view) more courage and moral fiber than can be found in many other walks of life.” Whether or not you agree with assertion (and I’ll confess to extracting it because I thought it would get your attention), Jordan’s post is worth a read. He suggests that the poor reputation for trust in the legal profession stems from a reluctance to trust others. “So we don’t trust our colleagues to live up to their partnership commitments or act in the firm’s best interests; we don’t trust our juniors with important cases or meaningful client contact; we don’t trust opposing counsel to act in good faith; we don’t trust clients to behave reasonably or honourably when reviewing our work or our fees.” Jordan ends with a heart-felt and passionate plea that’s hard to disagree with: “So we need to make trust fashionable again. We need to again make trust — the courage to give it and the honour of receiving it — the highest goal and the best accolade for lawyers, so that those unwilling to (or unworthy of) trust are seen as the exceptions, not the rule.”
5. Charles H. Green’s Trust Equation emphasizes Reliability (predictability, consistency) as a key element of trust-building. Elizabeth Cook would agree. In her blog, The Really Big Check, she points to punctuality as a way to demonstrate consistency. Elizabeth describes punctuality as good business: “It shows you respect others’ time, as well as your own.” She offers some practical advice for what does and doesn’t constitute a good excuse for being late. This post is a good reminder that sometimes the best Trusted Advisor practices are really simple and straightforward.
Title: Trusted Advisor Tip
6. I can’t resist another reference to the Trust Equation as a way of introducing Cordell Parvin’s Choose Words Carefully. Looking at the components of the Trust Equation (Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy) / Self-Orientation), trust is built largely through words. What about actions, you say? Absolutely! That’s how Reliability is created – when actions match up with promises (words). What about motives, you ask? Yes, that too! That’s how low Self-Orientation comes through – when good intentions and mutually-beneficial goals are communicated (words). So Cordell’s post is apropos to trust-building, as it lists several key phrases to avoid with clients…starting with “No problem” and ending with “You should.”
Title: Choose Words Carefully
7. Michael McKinney, author of Leading Blog, shares excerpts from the work of well-known leadership experts Warren Bennis, Daniel Goleman, and James O’Toole on the subject of transparency. Michael draws out five leadership lessons and brings attention to a particularly interesting point with this one: “All of us would do well to reflect on how receptive we are to the suggestions and opinions of others and alternate points of view. Leaders need to question their willingness to hear certain voices and not others. They need to make a habit of second-guessing their enthusiasms as well as their antipathies, since both can cloud their judgment.” What have you held great enthusiasm for lately that might be worth a second look?
8. Steve Roesler’s “How’m I Doin’?”: More Feedback, Relationships and Success got my attention with his opening paragraph: “Let’s get something out in the open: I don’t like the word feedback. It’s a buzzword. Once a word falls into that category it loses its power and effectiveness. It becomes a cliche. Like buzzword.” Candor with a touch of clever is always refreshing.
But my interest didn’t end there. Steve goes on to share some context for what he calls “the feedback thing.” (Did you know the practice started with the Space program back in the 1940’s? I didn’t either.) Then he offers five practical tips for finding out how you’re doin’. My favorite is number four: “Your best relationships are with people who say ‘no’ to you. This isn’t about someone refusing to give you feedback. It’s about the paradoxical dynamic that surrounds difficult news. It takes a high level of trust to say ‘no’ to someone. As a result, we learn to develop trust with people who say ‘no’ as often as they say ‘yes’.” Hear hear.
9. The More Meetings, The Less Trust, by Carmine Coyote begs to be accompanied by a Dilbert cartoon. Carmine Coyote’s rant—errr, post—begins with this: “In the list of activities that waste time and cause worthless frustration at work, meetings rank very near the top.” Carmine continues, “There are briefing meetings, liaison meetings, working parties, project groups and a host of other meeting types; and while all offer endless opportunities to drone on about something of little importance to anyone else, the worst aspect of so many useless gatherings is their tendency to create situations where your work can be vetoed or undermined.” The reason for such a continual waste of time and energy? Carmine says it’s simple: pervasive distrust. Click through to discover the simple antidote.
Title: The More Meetings, The Less Trust
10. Many people (particularly in the U.S.) were recently stunned by Tim Russert’s unexpected death. Drew McLellan of Drew’s Marketing Minute provides some interesting insight into why he and so many others who never personally knew Tim Russert were left with such feelings of loss at his passing. Drew says, “Tim Russert earned the country’s trust. Which is the sign of a brilliant journalist but it is also the foundation of a brilliant brand. How’d he do it?” Drew answers with five trust-building characteristics. I found number four of particular note. Referring to Tim, Drew says, “He wore his emotions on his sleeve. While his reporting stayed objective, his enthusiasm for the whole thing was apparent. He loved what he was doing, he loved talking politics. He loved the battle and the debate. That was a big part of how we knew he was authentic. He didn’t try to keep us at arm’s length. He invited us in to share in what he loved.” Drew reminds us that the recipe for building trust includes a tablespoon of risk-taking, a pinch of authenticity, and a dash of the unexpected.
The dog days of summer are upon us, and holidays beckon, so the Carnival of Trust will take an August hiatus and return in September. Enjoy your summer and we’ll see you in a month and half!