How cool would it be if you possessed the natural abilities to build instant rapport and trust with your clients, friends and family? Building trust has so many obvious benefits in every facet of our lives, but so often people fail to understand the key principles required in order to build trust. In the book “Trusted Advisor” written by Maister, Green and Galford they start off by asking a question.

What benefits could you gain if your clients trusted you more? I would take it step further and ask “What benefits could you gain if every person you interacted with trusted you more?”

They came up with a list (I have summarised the ones I think were the best and added a few of my own for good measure…) they said that the more your clients trust you, the more they will:

  1. Reach for your advice, every time
  2. Be honest and up-front with you, always
  3. Be inclined to accept and act on your recommendations
  4. Bring you in on more advanced, complex and strategic issues
  5. Treat you as you wish to be treated
  6. Respect you
  7. Share more information that helps you help them, and improves the quality of the service you provide
  8. Pay your bills without question
  9. Refer you to their friends and business acquaintances
  10. Lower the level of stress in your interactions
  11. Give you the benefit of the doubt
  12. Forgive you when you make a mistake (we are only human after all, and we all make them!)
  13. Protect you when you need it (even from their own organisation)
  14. Warn you of dangers that you might need to be aware of
  15. Be comfortable and allow you to be comfortable
  16. Involve you early when their issues begin to form, rather than later in the process (or maybe even call you first)
  17. Trust your instincts and judgements (including those about other people or colleagues and theirs)
  18. Be willing to give a seat at the table

All sounds great right, who wouldn’t want to have the benefits of being a Trusted Advisor in their jobs or lives overall?

Qualities of a Trusted Advisor

In the book “Trusted Advisor” the authors next ask the question so if you already have a Trusted Advisor in your personal and professional lives what key attributes and qualities do they possess?

Once again I have summarised these and added some more in for good measure. A Trusted Advisor…

  1. Seems to understand us, effortlessly and like us
  2. Are consistent and dependable
  3. Always help us see things from fresh perspectives
  4. Don’t try and force things on us
  5. Help us think things through (It’s our decision, and they are supportive no matter what)
  6. Don’t substitute their judgement for ours
  7. Share the same values, or respect our own values without question
  8. Don’t panic or get overemotional (they stay calm)
  9. Our honest and truthful even when its hurts
  10. Are in it for the long haul, the relationship is more important than revenue and quick money
  11. Give us reasoning, (to help us think), not just their conclusions
  12. Give us options, increase understanding of these options, give us recommendations and let us choose
  13. Challenge our assumptions (help us to uncover the false assumptions or beliefs that we have working under)
  14. Act like a real person, not someone in a role
  15. Don’t railroad their own decisions or agendas through
  16. Are reliably on our side and always seem to have our best interests at heart
  17. Have a sense of humour
  18. Help us put our issues into context, often through the use of metaphors, stories, and anecdotes (few problems are completely unique)

Earning Trust

So now we understand the importance of being a Trusted Advisor, and  we know that trust is so important, how do you go about winning it? How do you get someone to trust you? They key to trust is recognising that trust must be earned and deserved. You need to be willing to give in order to get.

A great example of this is in business, we often expect people to instantly trust us and hand over money in exchange for a service. In fact, many websites, sales pitches etc sound like this… This is our business, we are the best and biggest in town, we offer this service and we charge this much. Few ask the right questions to establish rapport and understand the client’s real needs before going into sales mode.

Trusted Advisors ask questions, establish needs, give some free advice or assistance, walk the client through the process and then finally close the sale with the details.

Trusted Advisors establish instant rapport through listening first (yes really listening) to everything. The persons, tone, their language, phrases, predicates, words, folk lore and then they match and mirror to make the person feel comfortable and get into their world.

Who has ever met a person, and instantly you feel like you have known them for ever? You feel comfortable, in sync and that they are speaking your language? It feels great doesn’t it?

Well either this person is naturally very similar to you or they are great at building rapport.

So here are my key tips to becoming a Trusted Advisor and improving your rapport and trust building skills:

  1. Listen first, to understand not to respond
  2. Take notes on everything, the persons tone, pitch, pace and match them where possible
  3. Repeat back words, language and phrases – they will feel like you understand them
  4. Focus on the outcome – in fact ask them “So what outcome are you looking to get from this?”
  5. Ask open ended questions until you think you fully understand their problem. Ask how is this a problem?
  6. Never judge, get into their world understand where they are coming from
  7. Givers gain, be willing to give not just to receive money but to truly help the client in some way

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