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    The Trust Edge Blog


    Insincere Apologies are Trust Killers | Trust in Leadership


    I had a chance to sit down with the CEO of Compass Strategic Investments. For six months, he lived and worked in the Netherlands, so he had some cultural observations to share. One of the distinctions that he noticed was that Americans often make insincere apologies. When it comes to building trust, being able to say we’re sorry and doing it sincerely is an important skill. However insincere apologies, those made out of habit or indifference, are trust killers. 

    Expressing remorse without any real intent to change comes off as insulting or dismissive, like someone who always comes late to a meeting and says, “I’m sorry I’m late.” The likely truth is she never really intended to be on time. No one believes her apology, and so she is not trusted. 
    Do you mean what you say? Whether it is “I am sorry” or, “I will get back to you ASAP,” if you can’t follow through, don’t say it. Make sure you return calls when you say you will and deliver when you say you will. If your intent is good, your words will mean something and you won’t have to apologize very often. It’s like a mother who says “No” to her child at the candy counter repeatedly with ever increasing volume and intensity. Because the mother has given in to her child’s badgering in the past, the child does not trust that Mom means what she says.

    The problem also happens when people apologize even though they are not really sorry for what they did. They are only sorry that they got caught. Learning to apologize is only part of it. Doing it sincerely and with genuine intentions is the real test. The next time you feel an apology is in order, ask yourself, Am I sorry to the degree that I am genuinely going to try to make sure it does not happen again? Do I really mean it? Of course it is important to apologize, but so is the action that shows you meant it. Those who only need to apologize occasionally, and do it sincerely, will be trusted.

    Picture courtesy of:


    Godin & Sackner-Bernstein on Contribution | Trust in Leadership

    What does age have to do with being a big contributor?

    Einstein said if you don't make a major impact in your industry before 30, you probably won't.

    Sackner-Bernstein shows research that disproves this, showing how previous similar explanations were based on a lesser understanding of the brain. In a nutshell, age is an advantage and we must not use anything to let ourselves off the hook for making a difference in society.



    Read and watch here.


    8 Tips for Effective Listening | Trust in Leadership


    Growing up on the farm as the youngest of six kids, I learned how to eat fast, talk fast, and interrupt my siblings. Listening has not always come easily to me, and I’m not alone. Listening is a fundamental skill of genuine success, and it’s hard to be great or trusted without it. The benefits of listening include more trust, better understanding, stronger marriages, happier kids, and increased respect at work. Still, being a good listener is hard work! 

    I learned a great lesson while talking with one of my closest friends. He was telling me about something troubling him in a hallway during the lunch hour. Several people passed by us, stopping to say hello along the way. Each time, even as my friend continued talking, I would look up and speak a friendly greeting. Finally, after a few of these interruptions, my friend simply stopped talking and said, “You don’t care. You are not listening to what I am saying.” What he said permanently changed my outlook on listening. He was absolutely right, and I knew it immediately. Rather than focus on his words, I was showing him he wasn’t worthy of my attention. Bad listening habits aren’t just rude; they are expensive. To this day, I’m grateful for his candor, because listening is such an important factor in gaining someone’s trust. 

    I will never forget being in the boardroom for a staff meeting at one of my first jobs. The meeting was supposed to be an opportunity to deal with new business, talk through current issues, and raise any concerns. During the meeting I got a firsthand look at the impact listening has on personal trust and credibility. The board director, brilliant in many parts of running an organization, was wrapping up the session. With everything else on the agenda complete, he asked if there was anything else to discuss. Before anyone could answer, he turned his back to the staff, left the room, and let the door slam shut behind him. All the faces in the room were full of disbelief. I knew there were some who wanted to discuss a specific problem. The director lost his team that day. The director was competent and committed to his job but was not fully trusted. An unwillingness to listen is one of the fastest trust killers.

    8 Tips for Effective Listening: 

    When done genuinely and appropriately, the following will increase communications and trust.

    1. Keep eye contact. Look at the person talking. You’ll have an easier time paying attention, and they’ll be grateful for your focus. 
    2. Listen with your body. Nod and gesture with your hands to show you’re keyed in to what the other person is saying. Make sure your posture and movements don’t suggest you’re bored or restless. 
    3. Practice patience. When someone is speaking to you, resist the urge to have something ready to say in return. Listen carefully to what they’re saying before answering.
    4. Empathize. Listening isn’t just about the message. Intent and context are important, so try to make a habit of seeing things from their point of view. Try to really put your feet in the speaker’s shoes. Avoid comments like, “I totally understand what you are going through.” 
    5. No one completely understands what someone else is going through. When we acknowledge that fact, our credibility as a listener goes way up. 
    6. Be present. Ask, “Am I present in this conversation?” Keep your focus on track.
    7. Avoid answering the electronic interrupter. The phone, PDA, or email can be a useful means of communication. But if you are with someone, taking an interruption is one of the fastest ways to show you don’t really care about him or her.
    8. Hold one conversation at a time. 


    Photo credit to Juhan Sonin, "Deep Conversation"


    Leaders are Readers | Trust in Leadership


    My grandmother was known for reading a book a day. I’m not exaggerating! As a matter of fact, she is famous in our family for reading all of the books in two libraries! She had the habit of waking at 4:00 in the morning to have quiet time to read. Grandma Esther loved to learn. Imagine what you could learn just by intentionally reserving time each day to read. I hope to instill this love of reading in my children as well.  

    Leadership expert, John C. Maxwell says, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” One of the outstanding leaders I know is Nate Parks. Whether he is taking his kids to an activity or waiting for the gas tank to fill, he always has a book with him. By having the reading material with him at all times, looking for chances to read a few more pages, Nate reads many books a year. Mrs. Klein, my daughter’s kindergarten teacher wisely said, “Reading is critical because in the first three years of school, one learns to read. After that, one reads to learn.”   

    Maybe getting up at 4:00 isn’t an option for you, but here are some tips to help you get some reading done.

    • Keep a book with you whenever you can
    • Read everywhere you can. This means on the bus, while waiting in line, or any time that you get a few minutes.
    • Take a little time to read before bed, it can help you relax.
    • Read different types of books. Mix it up.
    • Learning how to speed read can be helpful but reading too fast can lead to decreased comprehension.

    The Impact of Compassion | Trust in Business


    Who do you trust more, firefighters or mortgage brokers? Librarians or lawyers? Nurses or salespeople? One of the biggest reasons for trust is the perception that someone is concerned beyond themselves for the good of the whole. Firefighters and nurses care for others by nature of their jobs. But we wonder if the salesperson really has our best interest in mind. Don’t worry if you are in a less trusted line of work. Resolve to be among the trusted in your field. Show that you think beyond yourself; you will be unique and successful in your industry. 

    Do not underestimate the bottom-line impact of compassion. The ability to show care, empathy, and compassion is a heavy component of trust. The ability is rooted in two long-standing virtues. The first is being able to “walk in someone else’s shoes” and understand things from his or her experience. The second is continually acting out, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” On a basic level, the link between care and trust is fundamental. The aphorism is true; “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” 

    Though Milton Freidman famously claimed in 1970 that the social responsibility of business is to increase profits, things have changed. Forty years later people want to do business with those who have concern for the whole of humanity. President and CEO of the world’s largest independent PR firm and trust researcher, Richard Edelman noted, “We’ve moved from a shareholder to a stakeholder world in which business must recast its role to act in the public’s interest as well as for private gain.”( Even Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, acknowledged that the ultimate goal of business is not to make a profit. “Profit is the reward one gets for serving the general welfare,” according to Author and Professor Walter Wink in his article Globilization and Empire: We Have Met the Evil Empire and it is US. 

    No matter your profession, challenge yourself to start thinking like the customer, patient, client, congregation member, or student. Think of their needs and their challenges. Care about THEM. Give them a great experience. Make them feel valued. Not only is it fun and self-gratifying, but it will also help you gain The Trust Edge

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