This post is part of our Weekly Tips series.

We’re continuing our conversation about intimacy, a deliberately provocative word to use in business.

Intimacy refers to the safety that is felt when someone is entrusted with something. A client might say about you, “I can trust her with that information—she’s never violated my confidentiality before, and she would never embarrass me.” Or your client might think, “She’s easy to be around.” These are signs of intimacy.

To be exceptionally trustworthy, we have to score well on all four variables of the trust equation: intimacy, credibility, and reliability, and other-orientation. The more consistent your scores, the higher your overall trust quotient. Unfortunately, this means you can’t compensate for low levels of intimacy with exceptional credentials or follow-through.

Fortunately, there are many pathways to intimacy. Last week, we talked about being positive —such as finding ways to acknowledge your client, or celebrate successes together.

Being personal is another.

Worry not, being personal is not the same as being private; there are lots of ways to be personal that are professionally appropriate.

Bonus: Making it Real

This week, focus on being personal. Here are three options:

  1. Use your client’s name when you communicate with him. They say your own name is the sweetest music to your ears. Address your client personally in your emails, voicemails, and conversations.
  2. Use colloquial language. Check the consulting jargon and multi-syllabic words at the door. Practice human talk. Simple. Straightforward. To the point.
  3. Be empathic in all your interactions. Empathy creates emotional connectedness. Stop to show you’re really tuned in to what your client is saying (both the words and the “music”) before you ask your next question or make your next comment. “It’s clear this is a stressful situation, Frank” or “I can appreciate the difficulty in that” or “That sounds like a victory worth celebrating.”

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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).