I believe that trust is built through understanding. When we lose our ability to have empathy for another person’s experiences, we risk becoming apathetic.
Therefore, I build tools that promote understanding.
With a long career in communications, I’ve learned the hard way that trust is not a message. We don’t tell someone to trust us or craft the perfect speech to engender loyalty. As the late Steven Covey was fond of saying, we must “first seek to understand, and then be understood.” That simple turn of phrase reveals the complexity of meaningful verbal and non-verbal communications.
My work enables business leaders to strengthen their trust literacy.
I am extremely fortunate to have worked in financial services during the financial crisis. A better opportunity for learning about communication is simply unimaginable. Overnight, our role as brand communicators shifted to one of preserving trust through communication. To succeed, we needed to see the crisis through the mindsets of our customers. We needed to understand their concerns in order to communicate meaningfully with them.
Today, I teach the principles of mindset segmentation.
Tenets of my work
- Customer centricity is not achieved with an organization chart. Instead of trying to organize around the customer, we must infuse the customer’s mindset into the organization. There is no single group that needs to understand customers; rather, employees across the enterprise should know how to uphold customers’ trust at any point in time.
- People trust stories more than speeches. In communications, we spend long hours writing and vetting speeches. However speeches don’t influence decisions like stories do. Stories tell us which behaviors are rewarded and which ones lead to a dead end.
- Imbalances in power are perilous opportunities for distrust. Trust is an asymmetrical relationship. There is a trustee and a trustor who bears more of the risk. In a crisis, when customers feel vulnerable, the business should reduce the imbalance of power by communicating with great empathy.
- Empathy is a valuable business competency. In order to work on behalf of customers, employees need to care genuinely about customers’ well-being.
- The financial crisis transformed business. In a matter of weeks, Americans watched their home values, retirement accounts, and college savings crumble. The experience was much like having a rug pulled out from under you. Instead of seeking to define a new normal, we should strive to understand how distrust and cynicism affect business and business relationships.