by Michael O'Neill
February 1st, 2013

A trust-based relationship is an essential part of our work. As we grow and build towards a collaborative consultative relationship with clients, being a trusted advisor is crucial.

But trust is a difficult concept.

Trust is tricky too. When you are able to earn somebody’s trust, it’s great. You can ask for more, get more business, projects, retainers, and generally benefit from deals and decisions. But when people don’t trust you, you are in trouble.

So what do we know about trust?

Trust can be taught – Charlie H. Green and his team (TrustedAdvisor Associates) have researched and gathered more than 12,000 responses through a trust-quiz inventory, which revealed the truth about trust. Trust can be learned by focusing on your weaknesses in any of the four components based on the trust equation (Trust = Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy/Self-Orientation). In fact, “Intimacy” skill such as ‘listening’ and ‘empathy’ are the easiest to learn and acquire.

Expertise does not equal trust – Being an expert in something doesn’t guarantee people will trust you. Even though expertise tends to be the least effective way for gaining someone’s trust, it’s the one that people use the most often. But it looks like (based on survey) we are not impressing a whole lot of people, at least when it comes to trust. So be aware of this the next time you over-sell your expertise.

Listening drives trust and influence – According to Dr. Robert Cialdini, a professor of Psychology at Arizona State University, one of the most important drivers of influence is reciprocity – the tendency to return a favour (especially when the favour is not being asked in the first place). Reciprocity in trust-based relationships begins with listening. It is an essential skill that drives trust and influence. It’s quite simple: if you listen to me then I will listen to you; if you don’t listen to me, I can stop listening to you.

The Trusted Advisor Series programme is now available region-wide this year for our client (both internal/external) service associates and consultants. Contact Allen at alim@cmgrp.com to find out more.

Allen Lim is director of Learning & Development, Asia Pacific, at CMG,

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