In 2014 I had a gig at a restaurant every Friday evening performing close-up magic at the tables. One evening I approached a table of 6 adults and asked if they would like to see some magic. One of the guests accused me of fishing for tips. I assured him that I didn’t expect or ask for tips in any way and that the restaurant was paying me. He persisted and eventually I gave up and left the table without performing, leaving the other guests at the table disappointed and more than a little embarrassed about that guy.
I don’t know why he behaved this way but I knew what was at the core of the problem. Mistrust.
The next day I logged onto an online forum for restaurant magicians and asked if others had experienced a similar situation. Yes they had. The key, I learned, was to be pre-emptive. I needed to connect with the people at the table first before launching into “wanna see a trick?”
The advice was to take a few moments to get to know the people at the table - what they do for a living, how their day was, if they come to the restaurant often, etc. I also needed to let them know a little about me in a way they can relate to.
The following week I tried it. It worked like a charm! Not only did it reduce the 'suspicion of the magician', but it was more fun and the reactions to the magic were stronger. Forming that connection created a feeling of trust and made the experience better for everyone.
An irrational but useful feeling
It is amazing yet irrational that just by getting to know the other person better creates the feeling of trust. In reality, sharing something about your family or life and asking about the other person doesn’t automatically make you more trustworthy. However, it does make you seem more trustworthy and can be a great foundation for building an authentic trust-based relationship.
Most people undervalue trust. In researching information for my keynote program, The Trust Advantage, I was surprised to discover that prioritizing trust pays huge dividends in virtually EVERY AREA of your life and work.
Here are just a few of the many enormous benefits of trust:
- It increases the speed at which you can get things done by removing the friction created by low trust or mistrust.
- Your quality of life improves.
- Your personal income and business bottom line go up.
- It elevates your happiness because you don’t have the stress and discomfort that come from dealing with people for whom trust is low or non-existent.
Unfortunately, we are wired to be suspicious and distrusting when we have uncertainty about a person or their intentions. It’s a safety mechanism of our subconscious brain. But creating a personal connection - even a small one - reduces the sense of uncertainty and mistrust.
How can you build trust by creating connection?
- Be genuinely interested in the other person. What are their passions? How do they have fun? What are they struggling with? You will understand them and what drives them better, reducing the feeling of uncertainty.
- Share your own stories and life details. You will be more relatable and they will see you more as being like them.
- Share your values. Let them know what is important to you. If they know you value, say, honesty or integrity, they assume that you live those values and are therefore more trustworthy.
- Work retreats are a great way for colleagues and co-workers to connect in a non-work setting and get to know each other. Include activities that encourage sharing personal stories.
- Avoid latching onto first impressions. If your initial impulse when meeting someone is negative, get to know them before judging their character. A negative first impression can close the door to a potential great relationship based on trust and respect.
Abraham Lincoln understood the value of connection when he said, “I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.” Great advice for all of us.
Think well and be well.
- Steve Haffner
Decision performance specialist
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