Discovering the true meaning of trust in business
By Colin Lovering
How many times have you believed in someone who seemed perfectly trustworthy and professional to simply do what you wanted them to do whether it was getting your hair cut, having your car repaired or simply selling a service or product to you only to be disappointed?
As human beings we have a natural propensity to trust in both our personal and professional lives. This propensity is further enhanced when we are interacting with people in authority or assumed credibility such as doctors, lawyers, pilots, CEOs etc.
Last year I was taken quite ill while returning from a business trip in Munich and was given the full works of flashing lights and sirens screaming through the streets of Bucharest to hospital. The following day I had an appointment with, let’s just call him Doctor X, one of the leading surgeons in Romania (according to an extensive google search).
“Oh dear,” he began with his hands spread like a proud fisherman, “you have a tumour this big and your heart is very weak!” To which I uttered one or two expletives before he realized that he had got his medical notes mixed up with a 90-year-old patient sat in a wheelchair outside his surgery door. “Ah ok, anyway, never mind, I think I know what your problem is and I can operate tomorrow although I have 12 other operations but don’t worry I can fit you in somehow, ok?” . “Er, yes” was my stuttering and rather subservient reply to the medical expert unnerving me with his Jack Nicholson smile which prompted me to swiftly and nervously depart, sympathetically patting the aforementioned gentleman on his shoulder as I passed him like a saddened priest walking away from Anne Boleyn in 1536.
I will come back to this story later but let’s take a deeper look at TRUST and what it really means. Trust is basically the “willingness to be vulnerable” and this is illustrated every day of our lives. A recent survey quoted the top most trusted companies with giants such as Nike, Coca Cola and Apple shining in the top ten. I thought about this and realized the multitude of times we have all clicked the “accept the terms and conditions” square box on various online transactions without ever reading a single word… because we trust them of course!
The three drivers of trust in business are ABILITY, BENEVOLENCE & INTEGRITY.
Ability is, of course, “situation specific” as you certainly wouldn’t trust your dearest friend to pack that parachute because that is not their skill. You should however trust an accountant to fill in your tax return correctly but just ability is simply not enough to fulfill trust.
Benevolence is about caring. Does that efficient waiter or salesperson actually care about you or is he/she simply processing you. Are they concerned about the impact of the sales and, more importantly, do they want to have continuous business with you? (By the way, an assassin has great ability and zero benevolence if that helps illustrate the importance of this second driver.)
Integrity is based around the person’s values and beliefs coupled with their consistent passion for sustaining both whatever the challenges or situations faced “I have my values and I will stick to them” (Nelson Mandela is my Integrity hero.)
If you can build your business around these three major drivers and continually question your ranking with all your clients, old and new, then you will create a reputation and professionalism that others will envy and, it’s simply guaranteed, you will become more successful.
Finally, back to my hospital story. I fortunately soon found an alternative, and refreshingly professional doctor, at another hospital who was extremely skilled and knowledgeable (ability), showed genuine care for me during and after the operation (benevolence) and did exactly what he said he was going to do (integrity) and I’m now 100% fit again!
CONCLUSION: If you don’t tick all the boxes, or your potential new client doesn’t, then take a hard look at what you are doing. Remember, trust is a science it’s not an instinct!
Colin Lovering is senior vice-president of Avison Young Romania and Chairman of the British Romanian Chamber of Commerce.