Advice means nothing without trust

Typically, people only take advice from people they trust. As business owners and leaders, how do we gain the trust of people who don’t know us well? And how do we learn to trust people we don’t know, but who could provide us with the advice we need?

The first step towards building trust is connection. You need to connect with the other person. If it feels wrong, it is wrong, and you won’t be able to form a relationship with them. The key is to understand why it feels wrong. Is it a personality fit? A cultural fit? Is it miscommunication? If that person doesn’t fit with you, you probably can’t coach them (or be coached by them).

Trust takes time

Building trust cannot be rushed. It takes time, patience and respect. Above all else, it requires honesty.

For someone to trust us, we must be true to our word and follow through with our actions. We also need to communicate effectively. Does the other person fully understand the advice we’re giving them? Have we explained to them why we’re giving them that advice, so they can understand our perspective and make informed decisions?

We may not always agree with what the other person does with our advice. They may not take it on board, or they make a decision we think is wrong. That’s OK. You must be honest about your feelings, but you must express them in an emotionally intelligent, logical way.

Do what you believe to be right

When giving advice, do so with integrity. Say and do what you believe to be right for that person and business at that time.

If you make a mistake, admit to it. Mistakes happen; we’re all human. By admitting to your mistakes and trying to correct them, you’ll strengthen your trust with others. They’ll see you’re human and feel a greater sense of connection with you.

Don’t give advice that’s not needed or creates additional work for you. For example, from the outset, I am clear with the advisory boards I work with that I’ll be their chair for an 18-month period. My job is to connect the business with the right advisors at the right time so that by the end of the 18 months, the advisory board will be succession planned. The business will get a whole new advisory board, including a new chair. This is because I want my clients to outgrow me. I don’t want to be there beyond 18 months. I want them to have the next advisory board chair lined up; someone who is better than me and will meet their requirements at that time.

An advisor’s job is to do themselves out of a job

If we’re not comfortable with that, then we can never be great advisors.

We also need business owners to trust that although the advice we give them may be uncomfortable, it’s based on what we know and what the business needs at that time. It’s like when a doctor tells you, “You really need to start watching what you eat because you’re not in a healthy weight range.” This might be difficult to hear, and we might not like the advice the doctor gives us, but we trust this advice. We know the doctor is an expert who speaks and acts with integrity. It’s up to us to use their advice and do what’s best for our body.

The same is true for business owners. As advisors, we must ensure they trust the advice we give them. And, if we are the ones receiving advice, we must be able to trust it and do something with it.

If you need help building relationships and trust in your business or with your clients, email me at [email protected].

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