This post is part of our Weekly Tips series.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about one aspect of The Trust Creation Process. It’s a five-step model describing how trust gets created in conversations: Engage, Listen, Frame, Envision, Commit (“ELFEC” for short). The Trust Creation Process was first introduced by Charlie Green and his co-authors in The Trusted Advisor.

The Engage step is where you demonstrate you have value to add to a specific issue at-hand—in your first conversation or your 100th. As in, “I hear X may be an issue for you. Is that right?” or “I’ve been thinking about your situation, and …” or “You mentioned in our last meeting that …”

Engage is your opportunity to generate interest; to communicate that it just might be worth talking to you. Like many other aspects of trust-building, it’s simple … and not necessarily easy.

I know I fail to engage effectively when I’m especially passionate about—or frustrated by—a topic. In both cases, it takes real consciousness and effort for me to move the focus from me to my stakeholder. When I’m successful, the payoff is getting clear about why what I want to talk about is something he should spend time and energy on as well, which maximizes the chances that he’ll make it a priority.

Bonus: Making it Real

This week, choose a key stakeholder with whom you’d like to have more influence or a better relationship—ideally, one where you haven’t been able to get attention on a deserving topic. Look for ways to engage her on matters of interest to her. Think about competitive developments, career challenges, managerial issues, personal goals, or simply something you noted from an interaction in the past and see value in raising. Then look at it from her point of view and lead with that in your next conversation.

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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).