This post is part of our Monthly-ish Tips series.
I’ve been thinking (and writing) a lot about trust and communications lately—related to dialogue as well as broadcasts like presentations and group-wide communications. Here’s my template for how you can rebuild trust you’ve lost when you’re talking to someone. (I’ll take a stab at how it might go for a written communication next week.)
First, here’s a quick recap from a prior tip on the trap most smart people fall into when it comes to rebuilding lost trust: You’re too logical about it. You focus mostly (or only) on the more rational aspects of the trust equation. For example, you make a new/better promise, then (presumably) follow through, which boosts reliability. You try to fix the actual problem, which builds credibility.
Imagine a client who says:
All too often the immediate reply is:
This response, while usually well-meaning, is particularly problematic because any trust injury also has emotional/psychological impact. And to heal that wound—or at least begin to—you also have to work to increase intimacy and decrease self-orientation. Not doing so can take some serious hours off of your life. Think about the cost in terms of time and energy of a client who complains over and over and over again about something that happened in the past. Persistent complaints are very often a sign that an old wound is festering because you’ve applied the wrong medicine.
So, let’s try this again.
Instead of rushing to a solution, try a six-part process.
Imagine a client who says:
Now, tailor this starter script to suit your style and situation, communicating in a way that’s genuine and heart-felt:
|1. Prove you’ve heard they’re upset:||I’d be frustrated if I were you.”|
|2. Explore/acknowledge the impact:||“You said you’ve raised this three times, which has personal impact in terms of _________. And you mentioned delays, which _________.”|
|3. Take responsibility:||“I could have done better, specifically _________. I am personally taking responsibility for this.”|
|4. Offer to make them whole:||“I’d like to at least try to lessen the impact by _________.”|
|5. Commit to preventing it:||“I’ve also escalated this/committed to making sure this doesn’t happen again by _________.”|
|6. Offer a solution:||“Here’s how we’re going to fix it right now.”|
Consider the world of difference for the receiver who’s hearing your plan to make it better after a whole lotta acknowledgment.
Yeah, it takes longer. I timed it: three seconds versus 30-ish.
I’m willing to bet those extra 27 seconds will save you hours—and maybe even days—in the long run. Seems to me that’s a pretty good return that’s worth a try.
Make It Real
This week, think about a time when you had to recover trust that you lost. Reflect on the six-part process. What did you include? What did you miss?
Review my recorded webinar on rebuilding lost trust (scroll down to Webinar #2) or brush up on Charlie’s and my tips for constructive confrontation when others are untrustworthy in Chapter 25 of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook.
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