Courney Buzzell and Anne-Lise GereWe work best with those we trust. We buy from trusted sources. We all know how important trust is. When it came time to create a website for my HR consulting business, I knew what functionalities I needed on the website but I didn’t know how to make it happen. Over the years, I had met Courtney Buzzell (this is a recent picture of Courtney and me) and Will Melton, co-owners of Proximo Marketing. I wanted to work with a local firm so I approached them.

During our initial meeting, Courtney and Will listened to my objectives for the website. They made good suggestions and had answers to my questions. I felt they knew they knew their stuff, from coding to hosting. I was introduced to the web developer, Drew, who would be working on my project. Finally, I trusted their ability to deliver on time and on budget a reliable website. They did and you can see the result at

“I try to become a trusted resource in the community,” says Courtney. “I build my network with other professionals that I trust, even a few from my own industry. When I don’t feel that I am the best fit for someone, I know exactly who might be, and I connect them! That builds trust. Doing what is best for a client or a prospect, whether it benefits you directly or not.”

This is a common experience. Surveys consistently show that earning the trust of those we want to work with is a key part of being successful. It’s difficult to gain trust. But when you have it, you can achieve exceptional results.

Trust has some unique dynamics.

In a recent webinar, Nick Noyes of Insight Experience shared a few simple yet powerful insights about trust:

  • The power lies with the giver. No one can take trust. It is given.
  • Trust only has power when it is given. Trust held in check is not really trusting.
  • It takes a long time to build trust and can be destroyed in an instant. Think about the Emotional Bank Account popularized by Stephen Covey.

Emotional Bank Account

We all know how a regular bank account works. We make deposits, save money. When we need money, we withdraw it. The Emotional Bank Account is an account based on trust instead of money. It’s an account whose balance depends how many “deposits” have been made, on the depth and warmth of a relationship.

In our relationships where the Emotional Bank Account is high,  we make allowances. We assume the best of intentions even when things go wrong. In relationships where the Emotional Bank Account is low, we are less forgiving, on the defensive. We are suspicious and look for hidden motives.

Building Trust

Building trust is essential especially when you manager others. Although there is no step-by-step guide, a few elements will help build trust over time:

  • Be true to your word and your commitments. Fulfill obligations and commitments no matter how painful or small. If you cannot meet a deadline or follow-through on a commitment, say so and explain why. Don’t go for excuses. We all know the subtle difference between excuse and explanation. This is known as contractual trust.
  • Be honest. Share as much information as you can with others. If you can’t answer a question, explain why. This is called communication trust.
  • The most powerful tool as a manager is to use the talent and knowledge of those around you. Recognize their skills and expertise. Trust their ability to get it done. When you do this, you are building competence trust.

According to Courtney, the struggle for many trying to build trust is that it takes time. For many, time is the one thing we never seem to have enough, but trust cannot be rushed. It is not a sale, not a push. A pushy approach actually deters the development of trust. At times it’s tempting to rush and the trust building process quickly becomes a sales process.

“If I could give one piece of advice to those who set out to build trust with their patrons, it would be to BE PATIENT,” reiterates Courtney. “The same way we build trust within our personal relationships romantic or platonic, trust is built over time.”

Here is another nugget: Trust is reciprocated. We trust those who trust us. Start the virtuous cycle by taking the time to build relationships, trusting others and you will be amazed by the power of what you unleash. By the way, this applies in the workplace as well as in the community and in our families.