This post is part of our Weekly Tips series.

If you’ve been tuning in for the past two weeks, you know I’ve been sharing three-word phrases that belong in everyone’s trusted advisor toolkit. So far, those are “That makes sense” and “I don’t know.” The third and last trust-building phrase is “Tell me more.” (We could add “I love you” to the list of word triplets, but then things start to get a little too squishy. Or do they?)

“That makes sense” is an intimacy-builder because it’s validating and potentially disarming. “I don’t know” builds credibility because it’s so honest. “Tell me more” lowers your self-orientation by keeping you curious.

“Tell me more” is a simple and elegant way to invite someone to share information with you. Distinct from a targeted, intellectually-impressive question, this phrase implies an absence of time pressure, motives, and a desire to show off. It’s a great way to give others all kinds of freedom to say what they want to say—especially if you really do just say, “Tell me more,” and not, “Tell me more about blah-de-blah.”

The subtext of these three little words is simple yet profound: “The agenda is yours, my time is yours, and my focus is devoted to you, not me.” And there’s a lot of power in that kind of other-orientation.

In summary, intimacy, credibility, and other-orientation increase trustworthiness. “That makes sense,” “I don’t know,” and “Tell me more” improve your score on each. Therefore, three little words really can make you more trustworthy.

Make It Real

This week, look for opportunities to replace closed-ended and directed questions with “Tell me more.” What’s different as a result—for both you and those with whom you engage?

Learn More

Take one minute to discover the bonus word that Charlie Green adds to this phrase, or brush up on all the variables in the trust equation in Chapter 4 of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook.

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).