Sunday, April 24, 2011

Building Trust - Taking a Bullet

I've often thought that building trust with another person (whether it's a customer, fellow salesperson or a manager) was primarily about doing the right thing, telling the truth, going the extra mile and sharing common experiences.  I learned a valuable lesson last week which revealed that sometimes, trust is built by taking a burden off of somebody.  In this case, it meant dealing with a troubling situation FOR that person.

In dealing with this individual, I had tried a number of methods to establish a trusting relationship, but it just wasn't working.  I knew this guy was going to be a difficult egg to crack.  We didn't have much in common, but we're working together, and I wasn't giving up.  I sought advice from both peers and management, which yielded the typical results.

Then, admittedly by accident, I took out a big problem for him that he would have had to spend dozens of hours unraveling.  While I felt somewhat put-out at the time, the result was nothing but spectacular.  This was of true value to the individual, and built rapport (and some trust).  It also opened up a new avenue to communication with us.  While I have much to do to continue building a working relationship with the guy, we're back on track.

I took a careful lesson from this experience (actually a couple of lessons).  First, just because I've been selling and managing people for 20 years, doesn't mean I have it figured it out.  I probably never will.  Experiences like this continue to support this thought and bring me back to reality.  Second, for some people, taking obstacles out of the way is a key factor in building trust.  While there are some folks that want to share difficult experiences, others just want them to go away.  When I can provide this, it makes all the difference.

There will always be more to learn.