Sometimes everything seems so complex, but when stripped back to the core, it is all so simple. When reflecting over my two decades researching consumer behaviour and attitudes, one thing is consistently clear:
Trust is the key to building and killing relationships.
Strong relationships grow with trust. As trust erodes, relationships die.
Be this trust in the businesses we use, or the govenments we choose.
Friendships, partnerships, marriages and teams flourish and fade with trust.
Trust builds confidence and economies.
Spending procrastinates as trust deteriorates. As people worry about job security, the cost of living and losing a sense of certainty as to the future. Businesses invest in people and growth when they trust the risks are worth it.
Trust in teams is critical to success in sport, business, the arts and innovation. Teams on the same wave length working in synchronicity. Cracks in the trustworthiness of team members—poor performance, good intentioned inefficiencies, cowboy egos, toxic behavior et cetera—are dangerous.
Followers need to trust their workmates and leaders, and leaders their team.
Brands retain customers from building trust. By delivering on promises, brands build trust—in the product quality and value beyond price.
Advertising builds trust through recognition, strength and stability. Yet, advertising too often quickly kills trust when it is dishonest or manipulative.
Social media has become a trusted source of information from real people, and thereby largely replacing old media. Yet, fake news, trolls, overload and obsession are weakening trust.
Government leaders are trusted as having the intelligence and power to make positive progress. Yet, erode trust from repeatedly failing promises and being driven by politics and reelection.
The biggest risk for trust is losing it. Governments don’t win elections, the opposition loses trust. Banks less often attract customers, than their competitors lose them from poorly handling problems.
Five ways to build trust …
- Trust builds with giving more than taking—business and government perceived to go above and beyond the basics, business and politics. Giving creates a sense of reciprocity, the desire to return the favour in the future.
- Encourage others to share positive word-of-mouth to build trust, as negative word-of-mouth can kill it. Word-of-mouth online or otherwise with people we trust as the messengers is the best way to build trust.
- Create a sense of psychological safety by overcoming fears of insecurity or distrust. Communicate to reduce perceived risk and the sense of insecurity and distrust. Make it easier to make the safe decision.
- Build intimacy wherever possible to enhance trust. For example, asking others to ‘do a favour’ such as a small donation or other form of encouraging others to be grateful and being part of the solution, can make them feel psychologically positive and more trusting.
- Be empathetic to feedback and problems. Trust typically doesn’t detoriate and die until there is a lack of listening and responsiveness.
Perhaps the meaning of life doesn’t start with the pursuit of happiness, but the search for trust. Much of socieity’s rising anxiety levels, come from distrust. Marriage breakdowns are typically from lost of trust. At the extreme are abuse and trauma creating significant psychological distrust, often difficult or impossible to overcome.
Life is too short to be in distrustful relationships. As a voter with an untrustworthy government. Or a customer with untrustworthy products and services. Or businesses being distracted by untrustworthy partners or customers thinking they are always right and failing to build trust. Brands, governments, businesses, customers, teams et cetera in which ALARM BELLS are sounding warning of trust deficiencies are best avoided.
Trust comes from psychologically positive relationships. Seeking those you trust and avoiding those you cannot. Perhaps this is the road to happiness.
Let’s hope business and government place trust as a priority into the future, beyond profit and politics. Trust builds businesses, better governments and movements to change the world
That’s how strong tribes of customers, advocates, supporters and followers are created and nurtured—trust builds relationships. Trust in business and government has become a disrupter. As those that care and can build trust are offering an enticing alternative to those eroding it.