This post is part of our Weekly Tips series.

Real relationships require trust and trust requires personal risk-taking. Those who tend to avoid risk lose priceless trust-building opportunities, while those who master risk-taking as a skill learn to employ what is paradoxically the greatest risk-mitigation strategy.

The best way to get better at risk-taking is to practice risk-taking. Here are three (of six) best practices to expand your risk-taking aptitude:

  • Be proactive about reducing ambiguity. For example, “Hmmmm … I’m not sure how to interpret the silence in the room.”
  • Acknowledge uncomfortable situations out loud. “Wow, this is awkward …” or “I wish I had better news …” or “The timing with this is embarrassing …”
  • Deliver hard news promptly and concisely. “We’re not going to make the deadline” or “We just don’t have the executive sponsorship we need” or “Jim is leaving the team.” (For best results, start with a caveat.)

Bonus: Making it Real

This week, examine your risk-taking tolerance. Here’s how.

Bring to mind a key stakeholder (e.g., client, prospect, colleague, staff member) with whom you have an exemplary trust-based relationship. In what ways is personal risk present in the relationship? How do you take risks? How does your stakeholder take risks?

Now, bring to mind a key stakeholder with whom you’d like to have an improved—or even transformed—relationship. What opportunities do you see to improve the relationship by taking more personal risk?

Learn More


The following two tabs change content below.

Andrea Howe

As the founder of The Get Real Project, I am the steward of our vision and our service offerings, as well as a workshop leader and keynote speaker. Above all else, I am an entrepreneur on a mission: to kick conventional business wisdom to the curb and transform how people work together as a result. I am also the co-author, with Charles H. Green, of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook (Wiley, 2012).