This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com - #Growing Your Business
Your business relationships will flourish when you commit to the following guidance.
4 min read
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In business, much like life, your relationships are everything, and the foundation of any good relationship is trust. I’ve learned that while establishing a foundation of trust takes time, it can be demolished in just a couple of minutes. Looking back on my career as an entrepreneur, it’s obvious that the success I’ve experienced was with people I trusted. You can only get so far by yourself. To truly reach the heights you dream of, you will need a team of other people supporting you.
So, how do you build that trust? It’s simple: By telling the truth. That’s going to be uncomfortable sometimes, but I know from experience that when you lead with honesty, things tend to work out in the end. Uncomfortable situations are actually opportunities to build trust. Don’t shy away from them; use them to shine instead.
Commit to these three actions, and watch your relationships flourish.
Related: Why Trust Is the New Currency
1. Be honest about missed appointments
This happened to me recently. I was looking forward to interviewing someone I follow on LinkedIn. This person canceled on me several times, including at the last minute, which is honestly not a big deal. But later, I found out on the internet why I got bumped. This person had a bigger and better opportunity that would deliver them financial rewards quickly. I can accept that; it’s just business. In fact, I respect that. It was the way the situation was handled — that I was canceled on again with no explanation — that caused distrust. I won’t waste any more of my time trying to establish a relationship with this person.
2. Own up to your mistakes
Recently, an acquaintance sent out an email that they had copied more than 250 people on. Whoa! This is a 21st century faux pas. Some people were upset that their email address had been so carelessly shared, and a few were very vocal about their displeasure. This person’s response was, “My assistant did it.” Big mistake. It is always a poor choice to throw someone else under the bus. Accept responsibility for your actions, and quickly. That’s how you establish trust.
Mistakes are universal and, to an extent, unavoidable. They happen all the time. We all understand that. It’s how you respond to them that matters in the eyes of others.
3. Be forthright about your motives
Today, my invention-coaching company has more than 20 employees. I never expected that, but this is what I’ve learned: Employees come and employees go. This is normal. Good managers want their employees to grow as individuals. In my opinion, that includes teaching them how to leave you and move on. This way, you’re looking after their best interests. It sounds a little crazy, but there isn’t a better way of establishing a successful long-term relationship. When you decide it’s time to leave and move on from your current employment, be willing to explain why. Your boss will appreciate it, and in doing so, you maintain the possibility of working together in the future.
Here’s another example that comes to mind: Let’s say there are multiple companies interested in licensing your product idea. This is an ideal scenario for a product developer, but also a tricky one. Everyone wants to get the best deal, but there are benefits in taking the long view.
Please realize, these companies are spending their time and money testing your product. They don’t want to discover, later on, that you have accepted another offer. If you don’t handle this scenario respectfully, you will erase any trust you’ve begun to build. The best approach is to be honest and tell each party that there is interest from other companies. In doing so, you give them the opportunity to move forward more quickly — or walk away. No one likes surprises. When you give someone the opportunity to make a decision, that establishes trust.
Last month, I published a new book to help inventors commercialize their inventions. Interviewing nearly 30 experts across 17 different industries helped me better understand how inventors can become more successful licensing their product ideas. Over and over again, these experts told me, “We want to build a relationship — a relationship where we can trust one another.”
So, be honest. How truthful are you being in your relationships?