Here’s a riddle for you to ponder…

It cannot be bought, forced, or demanded.

You can have it, but not hold it.

It can take years to gain and yet be lost in seconds.

It’s the single most important element of any transaction or relationship.

What am I?

You guessed it: Trust.

Hi, Friends and Colleagues.

This week I led a workshop with the leadership team of a mid-sized management consulting firm. The topic of the workshop was developing trust-based relationships with our clients. During this workshop, I had each leader think of two people they worked with whom they distrusted the most.

I had each leader identify the traits and behaviors that led them to distrust these individuals so profoundly. Afterward, we discussed these distrustful traits and behaviors as a group. Here were the themes that emerged of the people they distrusted the most:

  • Will do anything to win
  • They only look out for themselves
  • Always taking, never giving
  • Does not seem genuinely interested in helping
  • Didn’t have my back
  • Talked behind my back
  • Takes credit rather than shares credit
  • Greedy

Next, I had each leader in the workshop think of two colleagues whom they trusted the most. Each leader then identified the traits and behaviors of these highly trusted individuals. Here were the trust-building themes that emerged:

  1. Put others first
  2. Are honest
  3. Listen to them
  4. Communicate openly
  5. Show others that we care
  6. Are our authentic self – not phony

Is it really this simple?

If so, isn’t it rather strange that these trustworthy behaviors are not more common?

There’s a quote I love by John Hall, author of Top Of Mind, that speaks to the nature of trust:

Trust is a living, breathing, emotional bond that connects people. It’s intimate, personal, and powerful. In a world where it seems like everyone is out to pitch, scam, or screw you, it is also a rare and precious commodity.

Our professional reputations precede us. When we practice these trustworthy behaviors, clients choose to work with us, return to work with us, and gladly recommend us to others. When we demonstrate to our clients that we have their best interests at heart at all times, our practices will be filled with great success and personal enjoyment.

This wisdom is as old as humanity. And, will continue as long as humans exist.

Thanks for listening. Hope you’ll join me again soon.

Best wishes,


If you’re interested in learning more about building trust-based relationships, you may enjoy How Clients Buy, by Tom McMakin and me, and my more recent book, How To Win Client Business.