How to be Trusted by Clients and Colleagues? 

 May 27, 2021

Today, we are going to talk about a question that is really crucial for every professional business services context. It doesn’t matter if you wanna talk with colleagues with clients. The question often is: How can you be trusted? How do you build trust with your clients and with your coworkers? And this is the so-called “trust equation.” The trust equation. This is what we’re going to talk about today.

How to be Trusted by Clients and Colleagues
Credit@ pexels.com


I’m going to explain to you what the trust equation is all about, but don’t worry I will not keep it purely theoretical, but I will give you very tangible advice on how you can translate that to your daily work, on how you can build trust in your work environment.

And again, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s consulting, industry, banking trust this will be applicable for many contexts. So stick in here with me and let’s get started. So what is the trust equation? To my knowledge, the trust equation was first described by David Maister in his book, “The Trusted Advisor.”

Factors which contribute to you building trust

It shows a basic relationship what the factors are that contribute to you building trust with another person and, more specifically that the other person actually trusts you. And according to this equation there are three factors that increase trust but there’s also one factor to reduce trust. So let’s briefly go over these factors but then later we’ll also provide very tangible examples on how to make this actionable to you on what you can do to actually build and increase trust according to this framework.

READ MORE:  Cause Marketing, is good for companies and society

So let’s go one by one, credibility. This is about the knowledge, are you perceived as somebody who is credible, who knows his or her stuff who really knows what he’s talking about.

Second, reliability is more about your actions. Can you be trusted that you will actually do what you promise to do? Will you deliver, are you reliable?

Third, intimacy, and this is about building a personal relationship, a bond with the other person. Does the other person feel like he or she is close to you? Of course, a bond helps to build and develop trust.

And then the fourth factor, self-orientation is rather something that reduces trust. It will hurt you. It will undermine the relationship that you are building with a person. Are you perceived as someone who only thinks about him or herself? Can you be trusted that you also have the other person in mind or will you do things only to the extent that they actually benefit you directly? This is the trust equation and understand if you not say, hey, that’s a bit theoretic.

Factors which contribute to you building trust
Credits @unsplash.com

How to learn all these factors?

What does this really mean for me? How can I really put this to life to build trust? And this is what we will dig into right now. The first factor is credibility. And this is, indeed, maybe the most obvious one. Of course you want to be perceived as credible. You want to be perceived as a domain expert as a knowledgeable practitioner. And so in industries like consulting especially for the most junior colleagues this can of course be an issue because often you will be a young graduate fresh out of university.

READ MORE:  The Oudh Sample Packs - My Intimate Pencil For Perfume Choices

How will you be the domain expert for a certain topic, of a project that you are staffed on? So there are a couple of things that I did when I was staffed as a young colleague on a project where maybe I didn’t feel too comfortable about the topic that was being covered. So the first is fact packs. In many professional services firms you will have access to knowledge, to databases, to industry reports. Download lots of these, read them potentially also in your free time on the weekend.

Make sure that you have a solid understanding of all the challenges that the industry is facing. And, last but not least, ask your leadership, the responsible partners, to provide a little talk in the first week of the project. Often the senior partners already covered the client for several years, they really know the organization inside out and sometimes they will do this on their own initiative but often it also kind of help just to ask them for it.

Show Reliability to be Trusted by Clients

The second element of the trust formula is reliability. What can you do so that the client perceives you as reliable? And I remember my very first project at McKinsey where I got a little tip from a project lead, and she told me, it’s actually pretty easy just on purpose put yourself in situations where you can prove to the client that you are reliable.” So next time you sit together with the client, tell him or her, okay, I will send this document to you until tomorrow 10:00 A.M, or say, okay, today at 7:00 P.M in the evening, I will give you a call. So make these little commitments, these little promises and then of course, make sure that you really fulfill them.

READ MORE:  Top Ways to Buy More Instagram Followers in 2021

If you commit to give a call at seven don’t call at five past or 10 past seven, but call at seven. If you promise to send the document until next day 10:00 A.M, do that and don’t send it at 11:00 A.M. It is often these little things that will help you to be perceived as reliable and trust enough from my current experiences, working as a CTO in a German retail company.

It happens to me every single day that people tell me I will call you tomorrow at this time, I will send you this at this time and then people don’t do that. This really happens every day and it drives me crazy and, of course, this is exactly what leads to these impressions that I do not really trust these people, that I do not find these people to be reliable. So don’t be like that, but prove on a regular basis that you are reliable and this, indeed, will lead to trust.


The next part of the trust equation I wanna talk about today is intimacy. How do you build intimacy with colleagues, with coworkers, and we have two tips for you to share. And the first is a tip that I got from a former project lead that I worked with. And he told me, well, Heinrich, what you can do is whenever you visit a client in his office, or now today, even in a video call, if you are hanging out on Zoom, on Teams or whatever, just look at the things that are in the office of this person and ask him or her about that. Wow, that’s an interesting picture. That’s an interesting little statue.

READ MORE:  Tips To Maintain A Healthy Work-Life Balance

What is it all about? This is great to build some intimacy with your client because this often will spark some very personal stories, very personal things that you will learn from that person. And the second tip to build intimacy is really just to share some personal stories of yours. Talk about what you do in your free time. Talk about some hobbies of yours.

Let the other person know you, open up a little bit. This, again, will build some relationships, some bonding. And of course this often also encourages the other person to share something personal as well. And this is then often the starting point of a deeper, more intimate relationship with this colleague or client that you wanna bond with.

Show Self-orientation to be Trusted by Clients

And now the last factor is self-orientation. And, again, this is something that you don’t wanna be perceived as. This is something that will hurt the trust relationship that you wanna build. And this is, indeed, a tricky thing in many professional services context, because, of course, the majority of the people on the client side that you work with on an everyday basis, this is not really the people that you work for but you need to work with them to get something from them to get some inputs, to get data.

READ MORE:  How much does a loan agent get as a commission?    

You know, from the perspective of these people it’s very easy for them to feel used. They will often and easily get the perception that the whole relationship is a one way street, that you want to have something from them, but you do not really care at all about these guys. You do not care at all how he or she is doing, whether what you are doing is contributing in any way to her work.

And of course, sometimes this is hard to avoid but I found it always very worthwhile, especially with those people where you know that these will be key contact people for you, where you know that your project success will really depend on the relationship that you will be able to build with that person. Make it a point to always also give back.

Questions to ask to be Trusted by Clients

Do things for this person that maybe you don’t need to do. Ask this person at the beginning, hey, what are you working on? Is there anything I can help with? Maybe you can help this person with an analysis that this person is doing. Try to do a little favor for this person. Another problem that often arises in these contexts is that especially as a young consultant you feel like that you want to put yourself into the center of attention.

READ MORE:  8 Types of Contractors and Which One Is Best For Your Project

So maybe you were co-creating a certain result with a client. Now you want to present something in front of a senior leader of that organization. And here it can often be so powerful for the relationship to pre-discuss this with the client and let the client do the whole presentation. Let’s make the client the winner here. Help him or her to shine in front of his or her leaders. By this, you will not be perceived as self-oriebe Trusted by Clientsnted.


This is really one of the best ways just to build these relationships and create these situations where after you’ve done something like this a couple of times then the client at some point will also be willing and happy to potentially also help you out when you really need something. Maybe it will be at some point where you very urgently need something from that person. And then often this person will also be willing just to sit there late at night to create this on the same day, just to help you. And of course, just the opposite might be true if you’re not able to build this trusting relationship. So I hope you found these tips insightful.

related posts:

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}