This post is part of our Weekly Tips series.

You know that trust doesn’t just happen. It gets created person-to-person, and usually through conversations. The trust creation process, which was first shared by my co-author Charlie Green in his book The Trusted Advisor, is a five-step model describing how it works: engage, listen, frame, envision, and commit (“ELFEC” for short).

Can you guess which of the five steps deserves the most attention, yet gets the least? If you guessed listen, you’re absolutely right. In fact, I’ve devoted a lot of weekly tips real estate to the listening topic from the beginning.

There’s another step that’s equally undervalued and important. Want to hazard a guess on that one?

It’s envision.

[Tweet “#Envisioning creates a shared perspective, which in turn produces #positive forward momentum.”]

The envision step helps you sketch out what an alternate reality looks like, given the issues or opportunities that are clarified during framing. Envisioning invites questions like, “How will things look three years from now if we successfully address this?” and comments like, “Here’s what I see would be possible if we … “’

Envisioning creates a shared perspective, which in turn produces positive forward momentum along with thoughts like, “Could we really accomplish that?” and “That could be an extraordinary outcome.” Like listening, envisioning done well delves into risky emotional territory by exploring emotional states, not just facts and figures. Envisioning can elicit feelings of excitement, pride, eagerness, and hope.

And who can’t use a little dash of any and all of those? So often, we’re so eager to get to next steps (commit) that we skip envision entirely, or we move through it far too quickly. Then we wonder later why others are quick to back down or back off when change efforts get tough, as they inevitably do.

Just imagine what might be possible if we all lingered a little longer on the envision step.

Make It Real

This week, practice envisioning for yourself by answering the following questions:

  • What would it be like to be deeply trusted by your colleagues and customers?
  • How would it feel to be known as someone who leads with trust?
  • How might the quality of your work experience change if you were a trusted advisor more consistently with more people?

Learn More


Discover how ELFEC plays out in a sales conversation, thanks to our friends at Trusted Advisor Associates, or review the three trust models in Chapter 4 of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook.

An awesome future awaits,

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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).