When it comes to house pets, it seems like most people claim either to be cat people or dog people. Some, like me, are both. It wasn't always that way. I would have said I was a dog person. But, a few years ago I was adopted by a large, older, male cat that someone had "dumped" in the woods near a walking path I follow. I named him Walker and I've written about our relationship before.
When Walked unexpectedly died, my wife and I rescued three other cats to join our two dog family. However, I still wouldn't call myself a cat person. I liked them but I was a little afraid of them. They have all their claws and sharp teeth and they know how to use them. I'd give them some pats on the head and a few rubs but I was very careful to stay out of reach of those claws.
I'm telling you this today because that has all changed. As I sat down to write this blog, two of the cats climbed up on me and my keyboard. I rub them all over and they in turn roll over on their backs to have their stomachs rubbed and, frankly, we have this mutual love-in going here every morning at my desk.
What's changed? In a single word – TRUST.
I trust them and they trust me. I have earned their trust and they have earned mine.
Trust isn't something you can buy. It's not easy to earn and it is easy to lose. In a world where buyers have an abundance of choices of companies, products, and services – trust is scarce and valuable. Plus, trust increases in value as you nurture it and as others throw theirs away. (eg. Wall St., George Bush, US Dept of Treasury, etc.)
One way you build trust is by listening. You can't sell someone without listening first. People can't trust you if they feel like you don't listen to them. Your employees won't trust you if they see that you are more concerned with the bottom line than their trust in you. The level of trust a leader can expect to receive is directly in proportion to the follower's perception of the leader's respect, empathy, integrity, generosity, and listening/communication skills.
How important is trust? It is the difference between hearing the sound of contented purring or getting your hands scratched and bit.
Trust is what makes everyone feel more invested and committed to each other. It is the most important intangible you have with your customers and clients.
You might want to spend more time on earning and building trust these days. And, less on the things that anyone can copy.