One of the most overused and under achieved words is that of trust. Indeed, it forms the essential basis of good relationships and lack of it can ruin them.
A quick look at the various definitions of trust in Wikipedia shows how difficult it is to define an emotion because that is what trust is.
Rather than define trust it is perhaps more useful to look at some of the various components particularly appertaining to relationships that demonstrate that a business is trustworthy:
Take a look at pretty well every website, mission statement, catalogue and leaflet describing the ethos of a company and we can guarantee that they will all stress the honesty and integrity that underpins the way that they do business.
It is patently obvious that no-one in their right minds would mention that their business dealings can be dishonest so the claim of honesty and integrity becomes pointless.
Honesty in business has to be demonstrated and proven. For example when something goes awry do you contact the client or customer to tell them what has happened and what you are doing to correct it?
That is the sort of visible honesty that we all admire and moreover consider to be above and beyond normal run of business life.
Far too often we quietly omit to mention the problem in the frequently vain hope that it will go away which, of course, it usually doesn’t.
Competence again has to be demonstrated. It is all very well to claim that we have the best and most competent people in the organisation but until that is proven by the way that we interact with clients and customers then it becomes just another empty claim.
Problem solution, because that is what we are in business to achieve, becomes mandatory.
How often have we heard, for example, of great new software being installed into a company and the long term problems that occur. That is not to take exception at the way that all IT companies do business nor are they the only ones at fault.
Competence covers a very wide spectrum and everything that we do must demonstrate that we know what we are doing, are in control of the situation and are honest in our dealings with our marketplace.
Reliability is possibly the most difficult to define and achieve. Once again claims can be viewed as hollow until they are proven and that means that there must be a level of trust (or even hope) on both sides in order to prove the claim.
It has been wisely said that the first order is not the most important. It is the second and subsequent order that demonstrates that claims have been justified and there is a beginning of trust on both sides.
Trust is not often an instant emotion. Some people can take a great deal of time and effort to engender a level of trust that enables them to do business.
Equally there are some who are willing to take the risk to see whether the claims are justified or not. In the end we have to decide whether we believe a person or a business to be trustworthy.
It bears some risk of course but as long as we maintain a culture that under no circumstances will we ignore our own ethos then the overall claim of being trustworthy will be substantiated.
Like communications, trust is a two way exercise and should always be treated as such. Like many emotional transactions trust is a delicate flower and it needs to be cared for and proven without exception.
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