This post is part of our Weekly Tips series.
If you’ve been a regular reader for a while, you know about the connection between trust-building and personal risk-taking: they are inextricably intertwined. But do you know how you rate in terms of three essential types of personal risks to take in your client relationships?
To find out, try this little exercise by yourself, or with colleagues.
Mark a scale of 1 to 10 on the floor (no, really, do that). Mark the end points and middle point with tape, or an object that you won’t trip over. Then use the scale to assess three things.
Round 1. First, consider your general willingness to share something personal about yourself with others. I don’t mean deep, dark, inappropriate secrets. I mean things about you that make you more human, and that require at least a little vulnerability to disclose. Are you a wide-open book (10), extremely reserved (1), or somewhere in between? Stand by your number on the scale. If you’re alone, don’t just do this in your mind; physically choose your spot in your office/hallway/other. Consider why you chose the number you chose, and if you’re not alone, share your response with those standing near you.
Round 2. Next, consider your general willingness to raise a sensitive topic with others. Are you always poised and ready when it’s the right thing to do (10), very, very reluctant (1), or somewhere in between? Stand by your number on the scale. Consider why you chose the number you chose, and in particular, why your number may have changed from the previous assessment. If you’re not alone, share your response with those standing near you.
Round 3. Finally, consider your general willingness to share a point of view with others. Are you eager at all times, even if it might be unpopular (10), tremendously hesitant (1), or somewhere in between? Stand by your number on the scale. Consider why you chose the number you chose, and in particular, why your number may have changed from the previous assessment. If you’re not alone, share your response with those standing near you.
When my colleagues and I run this exercise in workshops, we generally find that for many, the numbers get higher with each round. Somehow, most people feel it’s most appropriate to share a point of view (it’s what you’re paid for after all). Sensitive topics are more challenging, though seen as necessary to address, and well within the bounds of professionalism. Personal stuff often gets written off as optional or only occasionally appropriate.
By the way, which of the three risks is the most important one to take?
That’s a trick question, actually. When it comes to trust-building, they’re all important tools in the toolkit. The answer for you, then, is the one you’re least likely to take.
Make It Real
This week, do this exercise. Find a few others to do it with you—either together or in parallel. What do you learn?
Read up on six risks to take to build trust, or brush up on the personal nature of trust in Chapter 1 of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook.
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